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Henry County teacher dies, community gathers at school, protests health concerns

'They're on the frontlines essentially every day with their students.'

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. — A longtime elementary school teacher in metro Atlanta has passed away from COVID-19, according to her family and friends.

People who knew Luann Burns gathered outside of Stockbridge Elementary School in Henry County to pay their respects to the beloved kindergarten teacher.

The educator community held up signs to pay tribute to her. They also protested health concerns about in-person learning this semester.

Henry County Schools is offering a hybrid option allowing in-person learning if parents so choose. The teachers 11Alive spoke with outside of the school said that’s not a safe decision in the middle of a pandemic.

“Anytime we lose a member of our HCS family, it is tough. Our board of education and superintendent, along with the Stockbridge Elementary leadership, shared their sympathies and condolences with the employee’s family as well as with Stockbridge Elementary students/families and school staff members,” a spokesperson for the school stated. 

The school official declined to offer details about the medical condition of the teacher, claiming that they could not comment on or confirm the cause of death due to medical privacy requirements.

Elton Alexander, a Stockbridge city council member, said her untimely death sent shockwaves through the community.

"Mrs. Burns was a passionate educator and what a great giving heart she had for children,” Alexander said.

As teachers paid tribute to the legacy of Mrs. Burns, they also brought awareness to health concerns.

"We're just really trying to make sure that we have another option to learn, and we just want to start that way until numbers decrease,” a teacher told 11Alive.

Jennifer Saunders, president of the Georgia Federation of Public Service Employees, said her team was contacted by concerned staff members.

"They're on the frontlines essentially every day with their students. They have seen things that have caused alarm,” Saunders said.

Teachers said they'll continue speaking up until they feel heard by the county.