Gwinnett County paraprofessional dies after COVID-19 diagnosis and days before retirement

A longtime paraprofessional with the Gwinnett County School District passed away just weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Nyenneh Jones said her mother, Maude Jones, had submitted her resignation due to concerns of the coronavirus.

Her last day was scheduled to be December 18. She had worked for the school district for 14 years, most recently as a special education paraprofessional at Rock Springs Elementary School.

However, she said her mother tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized on December 16.

"It just happened like one thing after another, after another. It was like a ball rolling downhill," Jones said.

Jones said her mother likely contracted the virus from someone at Rock Springs Elementary School.

"Mom was very, very careful with this whole COVID stuff," Jones said.

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According to Jones, her mother passed away on January 4.

"It attacks you to the point where there is no return. She was so scared in the hospital," Jones said.

The lively, compassionate and deeply religious 64-year-old was the glue that held the family together.

She was also the primary caretaker of Henry, her son who is disabled. Jones said Henry was the reason why her mother was so passionate about teaching special needs children.

"I said, 'I promise you I will take care of him the way you took care of him.' Then, she said to me I love you, you and I said I love you too," Jones said.

Jones said she and the rest of the family heard the warnings about the potential spike in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving and were concerned.

Looking back, she said she's filled with regret.

"We beat ourselves up every day. We should have encouraged her more to just not go back after the Thanksgiving break," she said.

The principal of the school sent a letter to family members and staff letting them know about the death.