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Third-grade teacher in Richland 2 dies of COVID complications

Demetria 'Demi' Bannister taught at Windsor Elementary School.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A third-grade teacher in Richland School District Two has died from complications for the coronavirus, the district confirmed. 

The district said Wednesday that Demetria “Demi” Bannister, a teacher at Windsor Elementary School, died on Monday, September 7 due to complications caused by COVID-19. 

"With heavy hearts, Richland School District Two administrators share this information with permission from Ms. Bannister’s parents who wish to remind others about the seriousness of this disease caused by the coronavirus," the district said. 

Ms. Bannister started her third year of teaching third grade on August 31, 2020. She began her education career fives years ago as a fifth-grade teacher at Windsor Elementary.

“Known as Windsor’s Songbird, Ms. Bannister used her musical talents to bring a great deal of joy to our school, said Denise Quickel, principal of Windsor Elementary. For our school’s Attendance Matters kickoff in 2019 she wrote a song about the importance of coming to school to the tune of ‘Old Town Road’. The song and video were a big hit with our school family. Ms. Bannister loved her students and never missed an opportunity to advocate for students and public education.”

Ms. Bannister led the school’s student choir in a variety of performances and hosted a student club for aspiring singers. She served as a 2020 Team Leader, helped lead school spirit initiatives and served on the school’s AVID site team.

Dr. Baron R. Davis, superintendent for Richland School District Two, said “I want to express my sincere condolences to Ms. Bannister’s parents, relatives, friends and school family. While gone from us too soon, Ms. Bannister’s legacy lives on through the lives of the students she taught in her five years as a dedicated educator. To honor Ms. Bannister’s memory I ask the Richland Two family to join me in reaffirming our commitment to doing all we can to provide premier learning experiences for all students in the safest environment possible and doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Credit: Richland School District Two
Demi Bannister

The district said in response to concerns expressed on social media about student and employee emotional welfare and safety, Chief Communications Officer Libby Roof reported that Richland Two’s Learning Support Services is providing counseling services to employees and students at Windsor Elementary School. The employees at the school were informed of Ms. Bannister’s death on Monday, September 7, 2020, and parents of her students from this year and last year were informed on Tuesday, September 8.

The district said it followed the proper procedures for contact tracing and notification of close contacts after being notified that Ms. Bannister tested positive for COVID-19 on September 4. The contact tracing and notification process was based on the date that Ms. Bannister was last at Windsor Elementary, August 28, 2020, which was the last workday for teachers before the start of the school year. Ms. Bannister began the school year teaching her students virtually from her residence. Richland Two’s custodial contract service provider, SSC, followed their cleaning plan that includes disinfecting with EPA approved virucides and electrostatic disinfecting machines.

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