PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/Gray News) - A Kentucky community is mourning the school district’s first COVID-19 death after a first-grade teacher died.

Stephanie Foster died on Tuesday, according to WKYT. She was 40 years old.

“This sort of just knocks you back a few steps. It makes it hit home,” district superintendent Patrick Richardson said.

Richardson said Foster’s first-grade students felt very connected to her.

“Those lower primary grades, you do a lot of one-on-one instruction. You’re on the kids’ level,” Richardson said.

Dr. Jeni Bolander, also a teacher, said the loss is being felt across the commonwealth.

“Teachers just have the biggest hearts. They want to see the world be a better place,” Dr. Bolander said.

Richardson said Foster was a leader on campus.

“She was one of the technology experts in the building. She trained a lot of our teachers on the different technology aspects, especially through COVID and virtual learning,” Richardson said.

Richardson said in addition to all of the young lives Foster impacted as a teacher, she was a mother to two young sons.

“We’re going to try to support that family as much as possible. As far as our school community, she just impacted so many lives. That’s going to be big as far as impacting and the grief the community feels,” Richardson said.

He told us counselors are on campus helping students cope.

“Lives in Pulaski County that will no longer be impacted by somebody who had a true heart for kids. It’s incredibly sad,” Bolander said.

Richardson said this is another blow during a tough few years.

“Continue to remember all of the sick around us as we continue to move through this pandemic and try to survive,” Richardson said.

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