three unvaccinated Miami Dade academics, together with the “soul” of Liberty Metropolis, die of COVID-19

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County public school teachers who chose not to get any of the three free COVID-19 vaccines are dying. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he had a “strong” message for teachers: “Get vaccinated!”

United Teachers of Dade reported Wednesday that two more unvaccinated M-DCPS teachers died from complications with COVID-19 – bringing the recent Delta variant death toll to three.

The three teachers worked on the Dr. William A. Chapman Elementary School, William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, and Holmes Elementary School.

“Crisis teams are now being set up in these schools because it is a crisis for students and a crisis for faculty and staff,” said Karla Hernández-Mats, President of United Teachers of Dade.

Lillian Smith and Abe Coleman, both beloved senior elementary school teachers, died before the first day of the 2021-22 school year. Michael Thomas, a high school teacher, was in the classroom on the first and second day of school before he was hospitalized.


Thomas was a teacher at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School in the Miami-Dades neighborhood of West Little River. He joined the district on August 18, 2006. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s office reported that he died Monday afternoon.

Coleman was a teacher at Holmes Elementary School in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and had worked for the district since March 8, 1989. Amber Hayward-Carr, Coleman’s colleague and friend, said he was known as “the soul of Liberty City”. ”

“He was so committed to his community. It was dedicated to the children, and he was so dedicated to the work that needed to be done, ”said Hayward-Carr. “Mr. Coleman was special … it’s a tremendous loss … we have so much trauma to deal with and we need to find a way to be there for our students, and Mr. Coleman was a master at it.”

Jacquelyn Calzadilla, a spokeswoman for M-DCPS, said the counselors visited Holmes Elementary School on Wednesday to meet with students and teachers.


“The community will not be fine. Not only will it be elementary to Holmes; it will be Miami Northwestern, it will be Brownsville, it will be Edison because that’s how tall Mr. Coleman was, ”said Hayward-Carr.

Smith was a first grade teacher at Dr. William A. Chapman Elementary School in the Naranja neighborhood of Miami-Dade.

M-DCPS implements a universal mandate for face masks for indoor use, but not a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Because employee health records are protected by law, the district does not publish information about employee deaths caused by COVID.

Calzadilla said M-DCPS employees are required to report positive coronavirus test results themselves. According to the M-DCPS dashboard, which includes self-reported cases, 148 employees and 72 students have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 13.


“The loss of one of our employees is always deeply felt as every member of this organization is considered part of the family of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” Calzadilla said in a statement. “We direct our hearts and prayers to the relatives of those whose lives have been recently lost.”

Related Story: Mother, Daughter, Both Unvaccinated Miami Dade School Employees, Die Of COVID-19

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