Jacksonville elementary school teacher passes away after battle with COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Family and friends remember Deborah Menendez-Holloway, 51, as a dedicated educator.

Menendez-Holloway, a teacher at Arlington Elementary School in Jacksonville, died of the coronavirus on Monday.

Her daughter, Regina Holloway, spoke to Action News Jax about her mother’s legacy.

“She loved teaching. She loved letting kids know that they were understood, and they weren’t alone, and they had powerful minds and voices,” said Holloway.

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She tells Action News Jax her mother wanted to be in the classroom for her students.

“I knew, and my Mom also knew, that we felt like she was a front-line worker, going back to school and teaching kids,” said Holloway. “… So, it was never a question whether or not she was going to go back. She was going to do it for her kids.”

Holloway says her mother was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-December and was hospitalized about a week and a half later.

Loved ones say she went to the hospital after she had trouble breathing, and her oxygen levels kept dropping.

A family friend tells Action News Jax Menendez-Holloway was given two to three rounds of plasma antibodies, and steroids, during her battle with the virus.

Menendez-Holloway spent more than two decades in the Duval County school district.

DCPS Chief of Marketing and Public Relations, Tracy Pierce, sent Action News Jax a statement on the passing of the veteran teacher.

“Duval County Public Schools is deeply saddened by the passing of one of our veteran teachers at Arlington Elementary School,” said Pierce. “We extend our sincerest condolences and prayers to her family and loved ones. Ms. Holloway was a long-time educator who had been with the district for more than 20 years. She brought love, joy, and kindness to her students and classrooms, and she will be deeply missed by her school community.”

Holloway tells us she and her mother were diagnosed with COVID-19 around the same time. Holloway says her symptoms of the virus were mild.

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With her mother in the hospital, the two stayed in touch however they could.

“It was difficult to only communicate through texting, and then calling,” said Holloway.

Holloway asks that we think of those providing essential services amid the pandemic.

“Your grocery baggers, your mailmen, your people like that, that are affected by this virus, and they choose to go out every day and continue to risk their lives,” said Holloway.

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