Neptune Beach Elementary paraprofessional, 56, dies of COVID-19, family says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Family tells Action News Jax, Jeanne Martin, 56, died Monday of COVID-19.

Martin was a paraprofessional teacher at Neptune Beach Elementary School.

Her husband, John Martin, tells Action News Jax she started having symptoms Friday evening.

“We had dinner and she was fine, and we were looking at houses, you know, because we were contemplating buying a house. That night, Friday night, she started to show symptoms,” said John.

He says he took his wife to the emergency room at Ascension St. Vincent’s on the Southside on Saturday after visiting an urgent care in Neptune Beach.

He tells us doctors there tested both him and his wife, and the couple tested positive for COVID-19. John says his symptoms have been mild thus far. He is self-isolating at home.

On Sunday, he says the hospital told Jeanne’s family a visitor would be allowed in on Monday.

John says his son drove to Jacksonville to visit his mother on Monday.

While his son was visiting Monday, John tells Action News Jax Jeanne’s body began to shut down.

“They brought her back down to the ICU on Monday, and it didn’t really take well, you know. Organs started shutting down, and she just passed away,” John said. “At least my son was there holding her hand. I couldn’t go because I was not allowed in the hospital with COVID. Which is understandable. But I kind of watched it all unfold on FaceTime.”

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) sent Action News Jax a statement on Martin’s passing.

“We are saddened by the passing of one of our educators, Ms. Jeanne Martin and send condolences and prayers to her family and loved ones. Ms. Martin was a paraprofessional at Neptune Beach Elementary and will be deeply missed by the school community. She began her career with the district and the school in August 2019,” said DCPS.

School Board Vice Chair and District 2 Board Member, Elizabeth Andersen, also sent Action News Jax a statement.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Martin’s loved ones. She was a beloved member of the Neptune Beach Elementary family and her passing is a tragic loss to our school community,” said Andersen.

Below is a message sent out to families and students in Martin’s classroom.

“Jan. 19, 2021

Dear Neptune Beach families,

The Neptune Beach Elementary school community is saddened by the recent passing of one of our faculty members. Our sympathies go out to family, friends, and our entire school community during this difficult time.

We would like to inform you of the steps that we are taking to assist grieving students and staff. Specially-trained school counselors and social workers were on-site and available to students and staff to encourage happy remembrances and discuss reactions to this death. Additional support will be made available to students and staff as needed. If you do not wish for your child to participate in these discussions, please contact us informing of your wishes.

Students, in particular, may be affected by this tragedy, even if they did not personally know the teacher. School psychologists report that children usually go through the same stages of grief that adults do; however, they do not follow a specific pattern or order. Children may be shocked, numb, emotional, angry, guilty, depressed, or disorganized. These reactions are normal and with support, acceptance, encouragement, and guidance, they will begin to understand and deal with their feelings. As a result, we encourage you to talk to your children.

Again, if you would prefer that your child not talk about the tragedy or participate in any of the ongoing grief counseling activities, please contact us at (904) 247-5954. As an additional resource, we have provided students the option to contact their parents and guardians during the school day as needed. Your child is important to our school community and we want to do what you deem best for him or her.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Kavanagh

Principal”