Over the weekend, three teachers who worked in Colorado’s Cherry Creek School District died. The coroner’s office is investigating whether they had bacterial meningitis.
Maddie Schmidt, a young teacher and girls’ soccer coach at Eaglecest High School in Aurora, is one of the three to have passed away. Arapahoe County Public Health Department determined that her symptoms were consistent with meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis occurs when the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord are infected and become inflamed. It spreads through direct contact with saliva or nasal discharge.
Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sleepiness, and confusion. It can be deadly if not treated with antibiotics.
One of Schmidt’s coworkers, Judith Geoffroy, also passed away during the same weekend. The pair worked at the school’s integrated learning center where they assisted students with significant developmental or cognitive delays. Geoffroy’s cause of death, however, has not been confirmed.
According to the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office, the women’s bodies will not be made public information until the ancillary testing is completed.
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Eaglecrest was closed on Wednesday “to create some space for that community” to process and mourn the losses, as well as to properly identify those who were in close contact with the deceased so they could be offered preventative antibiotics.
Scott Nash, a Willow Creek Elementary School physical education teacher, also died over the weekend from unknown causes.
Mourning the loss of Nash in their community, principal Mary Whitney sent a letter to parents saying, “Scott has been an invaluable part of our Willow Creek community for the last two years, supporting students K-5 in our physical education program. He will undoubtedly be missed by students and staff alike.”
According to Cherry Creek School District, Nash’s death was not related to bacterial meningitis.
School district spokeswoman Abbe Smith commented on the nature of Nash’s death, reporting that it “is not at all related to the other deaths.”
“We have no reason to believe that was bacterial meningitis,” Smith said.
In a statement, the district addressed the possibility of bacterial meningitis being spread throughout the community and the steps that are being taken to avoid additional fatalities.
“Arapahoe County Public Health will reach out directly to all staff members and families of students determined to be close contact,” said the district. “Those individuals will be offered antibiotics.”