DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — Two Duval County Public Schools employees — an assistant principal and a maintenance department member — have died within the last week after contracting COVID-19, friends and family confirmed to the Times-Union.
Bobby Rivers was a beloved assistant principal at Arlington Middle School who worked with children others may call "challenging." His family confirmed he died from COVID-19 earlier this week.
Kevin Hubbard was a Duval Schools locksmith. He said he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 31 and also died this week.
The news comes on the heels of schools reopening Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, which had already raised concerns among parents about cases on campus.
To date, the school district has reported at least 35 cases among faculty and students. Friday's numbers weren't available as of publication time. It's unclear how recently either employee was on a school campus.
Last month, at least three additional Duval Schools employees died from COVID-19 related complications.
Here's what we know about the recent deaths:
Bobby Rivers - Arlington Middle School Assistant Principal
Bobby Rivers was a leader at Arlington Middle School's PRIDE Program. He worked within Duval Schools for over a decade, according to his LinkedIn profile, as a Dean of Students.
Duval Schools officials said Rivers had recently been promoted to the assistant principal role at the local middle school. Before that, he worked as a reading interventionist according to Arlington Middle's website.
"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of one of our staff members," said the school's principal, Shawn Platts, in a phone call to families Wednesday evening. "While I have only been here and known Mr. Rivers a short time, his passion for students and for education was immediately evident."
Platts added, “Our entire school community is deeply saddened by this unexpected loss, and we send our condolences to his family.” He said Rivers was well known for "helping children in every setting."
"My heart is broken but I know that my husband fulfilled his purpose in helping others, especially his students," Rivers' wife, Jacquana said. "As his wife I will do my best to keep his memory alive by educating other students to fulfill their promise."
According to an internal document submitted to the Florida Department of Education, Rivers joined Arlington Middle School's team for the 2018-19 school year. He was praised for his "vast skillset related to student discipline" and was expected to work closely with classroom teachers to help provide strategies to deal with "challenging" students.
Tipp Marshall, a local parent said Rivers went out of his way to look out for her son.
"Mr. Rivers was very well-spoken when he would talk to the parents," Marshall told the Times-Union. "He asked questions instead of assuming. He kept my son on his toes. He assisted me with my son any way he could. He believed in my son better than his own father. My son was really in disbelief [when he heard the news]."
Marshall called Rivers a "savior" for her son.
"He didn't want my son to end up in trouble and pushed him," she said. "He was Arlington middle's best dean."
It wasn't clear if Rivers was vaccinated
Arlington Middle School is hosting specially trained counselors and social workers on campus for grief counseling activities. Families who do not want their child participating in activities are advised to contact Principal Platts by calling (904) 720-1680.
Kevin Hubbard - Duval Schools Locksmith
Hubbard worked in the Duval Schools maintenance department for nearly a decade and had been a locksmith for even longer.
A Marine Corps veteran, he loved motorcycles, music and cared deeply for his Ville Church community — where he served as a praise and worship leader — his Facebook profile showed. He was a member of the IBEW Local 177 union.
"It's always tragic when we lose a Brother or Sister for any reason, and these COVID deaths are no exception," said IBEW Local 177 Business Manager Alan Jones. "Kevin was a great person and his loss will be felt by the IBEW and Duval Schools."
The maintenance department member came from a family of locksmiths and had been learning the trade since he was 15-years-old. He was 51-years-old.
On Facebook, he announced he was not vaccinated and had tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago. A friend and co-worker close to Hubbard said he died from COVID-19 complications.
Friends said goodbye on the social media platform, too. "You will be missed, my friend," one wrote. "#COVIDSUCKS."
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.
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