A longtime Great Falls teacher and coach has died from COVID-19. It’s the first widely announced COVID-19 related death of an educator in Montana.
Ken Maddox, 69, died Saturday. The Great Falls Tribune reported that family members said that the cause was “COVID-19 related illness.”
“He was a mentor for many staff and students in our district and community for approximately 40 years,” Great Falls Public Schools superintendent Tom Moore wrote in a Facebook post. “The staff and community of East Middle School and Great Falls Public Schools share our sincerest condolences and ask that you remember Kenny's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve this loss!”
The Montana Federation of Public Employees, a union that represents teachers, issued a statement of condolence that also called for increased adherence to health rules.
“We cannot continue to have schools operating in-person when restaurants, bars, and school activities continue to exacerbate community spread. Montanans must wear masks in all public areas, and businesses must be held accountable for noncompliance. Additionally, all school districts, boards, and administrators must continue to do everything in their power to enforce public health guidelines, including mask-wearing, social distancing, and quarantining.”
Union spokesman Bob Funk said that the statement doesn’t represent a call to close schools, but instead aims to highlight concerns about school operations if health requirements aren’t being followed in the wider community.
COVID-19 has killed educators around the country among the more than 250,000 people who have died because of the disease in the U.S.
School reopening plans this fall have been mixed across the country, but most Montana schools have brought large numbers of students back into school buildings.