Dedicated Teacher Wore Oxygen Mask for Online Classes Before Succumbing to COVID-19

With classes being held online due to the COVID-19 crisis, a number of teachers are working long hours to make sure that they are able to prepare the materials their kids need for their classes while also juggling time to do live or synchronous classes.

But one teacher recently went viral for her dedication to the job – she’s so dedicated that even while she is in the hospital for COVID-19, she continued to teach. As her condition worsened, she continued to teach even if she had to wear an oxygen mask.

Philamena Belone teaches third grade students at Wingate Elementary School in Fort Wingate, New Mexico. According to her brother, Phillip Belone, Philamena was a dedicated teacher who spent over 70 hours a week teaching behaviorally challenged students during the day via Zoom and used her phone during the night to teach kids without internet access.

Photo credit: CNN

When she was hospitalized for COVID-19, this wonderful teacher requested doctors to send her home so she can still continue teaching her students.

I know that she kept wanting to go home to teach. She wanted to be with the kids that she was teaching. She was actually on oxygen teaching when she would have been in the hospital, but her condition got to the point where she couldn’t physically breathe,” Phillip explained.

Despite previously being healthy, the 44-year-old teacher was soon struggling to breathe even with the oxygen mask. So, the family rushed her back to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque. She did not really show them her struggles; thus, they thought she was going to be alright. Sadly, they lost this dedicated teacher to COVID-19.

Prior to that she was a healthy and vibrant, good soul who we never expected would be in this situation. We didn’t know that it came to such a dramatic circumstance until after she was physically admitted the second time. I was under the impression that she was still going to be fine and the symptoms weren’t that bad. She hid all of that very well from all of us,” her brother said.

Students and coworkers honored this kindhearted teacher who had always made sure that her students feel special. She knew how to handle kids so well that the most difficult students were assigned to her class – and she never complained.

Photo credit: Phillip Belone

She customized learning materials based on her students’ needs, provided learning materials out of her own pocket, and even drove to the kids’ homes to deliver these school materials amid the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the students have everything they need.

A lot of the kids she worked with didn’t have the best upbringing, so she would always go on another level personally to engage with them and be a big sister or an aunt to them. My sister had some tough circumstances in her life also, so she had a special connection with behaviorally challenged kids. She would love to connect with the kids and make them happy. That was her reward,” Phillip proudly explained.

A healthy woman and a regular runner, the family didn’t expect to lose Philamena to COVID-19. But she was placed on a ventilator at her second hospitalization and eventually lost her battle.

Everyone’s going to miss her big vibrant contagious smile. Everyone’s going to miss her laugh. What I’m going to miss most about her is her willingness to make people happy at whatever cost it took,” Phillip said.

Salute to this fallen hero.