Our children’s educators, mentors and coaches are dying avoidable deaths.

Three words can adequately describe these tragic losses: Gone too soon.

It’s heartbreaking to see such impactful people pass away. Their families now face an unfillable void. Young men and women are having to say premature goodbyes. Kids are entering classrooms or locker rooms and can never gleefully greet that teacher or coach again.

When we wrote “our” to begin this particular editorial, it wasn’t solely referring to northeastern Kentucky children — although several COVID-positive deaths have happened in our own back yard.

It’s happening all over the nation, especially where the coronavirus hasn’t been taken as seriously.

In Florida, at least 13 Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees have died from complications of COVID-19 over the last six weeks. According to NPR, that group includes teachers, bus drivers, a cafeteria manager and a security worker.

All 13 were unvaccinated.

A junior high teacher in Texas who was contemplating the vaccine contracted the virus, and died three days later, according to CNN.

The Tennessee Lookout reported eight Volunteer State public school employees died from COVID over the first month of school. It was not reported how many of the eight were unvaccinated.

Here in Kentucky, three Lee County employees died after battles with COVID. While their vaccination status was not made public, Kentucky Department of Education spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman seized the opportunity to remind everyone to “get vaccinated and wear masks as these are the primary ways to lessen impact of this highly contagious virus.”

Here in northeastern Kentucky, at least two coaches/educators — at Greenup County and Johnson Central — have died after fighting COVID. Neither vaccination status was made public, but following the announcement of one of her employee’s deaths, Greenup County’s superintendent implored people to get their vaccinations.

Statistics clearly show vaccinations diminish the risk of COVID-related deaths and severe cases of COVID-19.

Vaccine mandates aren’t popular, but vaccines are saving lives. It may be time for schools to seriously consider implementing vaccine mandates for their respective faculties.

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