Despite safety protocols, Arizona first-grade teacher dies of coronavirus

Jul 9, 2020, 6:00 PM | Updated: 9:51 pm

(Kimberly Byrd -- Hayden Winkelman Unified School District photo)...

(Kimberly Byrd -- Hayden Winkelman Unified School District photo)

(Kimberly Byrd -- Hayden Winkelman Unified School District photo)

PHOENIX — Despite following health recommendations outlined for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a first-grade teacher in Arizona’s Hayden Winkleman Unified School District died last month due to the coronavirus.

Kimberly Byrd, 61, died on June 26, according to a statement from the district.

“They [teachers] took all the precautions in the world,” Hayden Winkleman Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Gregorich told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“They wiped down their spaces, they had their own spaces in different parts of the room — they just did everything the CDC recommended and even more.”

Despite the precautions, Gregorich said Byrd became sick in mid-June and continued to work. A few days later, two of Byrd’s colleagues also tested positive for COVID-19.

Byrd and the other two educators had been using the same room to teach online summer courses.

Gregorich said he does not believe safety precautions outlined by departments such as the CDC are sufficient to keep school personnel safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He added Byrd would want her story told in order to “help leaders make a better decision than to send kids back into school in the middle of a pandemic.”

On June 29, Gov. Doug Ducey announced his decision to delay the reopening of Arizona schools’ in-person instruction until at least Aug. 17.

“I would say she was the heart and soul of our primary grade [school],” Gregorich said.

“She was the one that always lifted everybody up. She was a reading specialist; I used to joke that she could teach a rock to read.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

SkyBridge Arizona is an emerging business park in Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. It, along with othe...

Ron Davis/Phoenix Business Journal

Major aerospace developments near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport move forward

The skyline around Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has some changes in store, including major aerospace develoments.

25 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally Saturd...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins Missouri and Idaho caucuses, sweeps Michigan GOP convention

Trump continued his march toward the GOP nomination, winning caucuses in Idaho and Missouri and sweeping the convention in Michigan.

12 hours ago

Maine man, 79, dies while hiking Pyramid Trail in Sedona...

Damon Allred

Gov. Katie Hobbs announces Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan, establishes chief heat officer

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced the state's first Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan, creating the country's first state level heat officer.

12 hours ago

Kacey Musgraves, center, performs at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Su...

Kacey Musgraves to play Glendale concert in September

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves is scheduled to perform at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale on Sept. 27.

14 hours ago

Jose Andres Guerrero Talamantes...

Arrest made in fatal hit-and-run case in Carefree from December

Police arrested a man on Friday on felony hit-and-run charges involving death as part of an investigation into a crash that occurred in Carefree.

16 hours ago

Traffic is backed up on Interstate 10 near State Route 347 south of metro Phoenix...

Report lists Phoenix, Tucson among U.S. cities with worst drivers

Two Arizona cities have landed in the top 10 of a national ranking of places with the worst drivers in the nation.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Despite safety protocols, Arizona first-grade teacher dies of coronavirus