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School mourns death of COVID-linked teacher in Cannelton, Ind.

“She taught her students to live well and to be good humans”

Dayna Hinton has been diligent in protecting herself from COVID-19, whether at work, in the community or at home, her husband, Dave Hinton, said.

“We wore masks everywhere we went. She was constantly using hand sanitizer and wiping things off,” he said. “Dayna was very worried about this.”

And yet, the dedicated English teacher got it anyway.

On August 11, Dayna Hinton’s death from a COVID-19-related illness spread to Cannelton Junior-Senior High School in the small town of Cannelton on the Ohio River, midway between Evansville and Louisville, in southern Indiana.

The 35-year-old man from nearby Tell has taught language arts from grades 9 to 12. She died at St. Vincent Hospital in Evansville less than two weeks after starting what would have been her 10th year of teaching at Cannelton.

With an enrollment of around 150 students in Grades 6 to 12 and only 10 full-time staff, few did not know her, principal Joseph Sibbitt said.

“We are such a small school that it was basically the English department,” he said.

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Jaci Herzog taught language arts to junior high school students in Cannelton. “She is absolutely irreplaceable. The impact she has left on our students, staff and community is simply amazing,” she said.

Dave Hinton said he still doesn’t know how they got the virus.

“She was very knowledgeable (about the security of COVID-19),” he said. “We did everything we could, but in the end it was not enough.”

While he was initially hesitant to get the shot, said Dave Hinton, the couple had planned to do so over the summer. Dayna felt it was important for the start of the new school year.

“She didn’t want to miss anything with her students,” he said.

On Mother’s Day, May 9, the couple woke up feeling congested and sick.

“We drove to Owensboro, Ky. Because it was the closest place we could get tested,” said Dave Hinton. “They came out and said she was positive and I needed to be tested as well.”

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Both positive for COVID-19, the couple quarantined themselves at their home to wait for the symptoms to end. But while her symptoms subsided after a few days, Dayna’s got worse.

After a week of progressing through a range of symptoms from headaches and stomach aches to fever, and with Dayna’s blood oxygen level declining, Dayna was admitted to Perry County Memorial Hospital. in Tell City.

On May 14, she was in St. Vincent in Evansville, diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia and on a ventilator, said Dave Hinton. As she began to improve under medical care, she was transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in downtown Evansville.

“For about 10 days, she was completely off the ventilator,” he said. “When I left her on Friday August 6, I told her I couldn’t see her on Monday because I had to have an operation.”

It was a surprise, said Dave Hinton, when he called her on Tuesday after her operation and learned that she had taken a bad turn and was being transferred to St. Vincent. It was septic shock.

A graduate of Tell City High School, Hinton received a bachelor’s degree in education from Evansville University in 2008, she said. obituary. Hinton’s survivors include her husband and two children.

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Dave Hinton recalled that it was never too late at night for her to be able to answer student phone calls. She often spent her own money and time helping students and buying school supplies, often enticing him to help.

“We built a full library in her classroom because the school didn’t have one. If she wanted to teach a novel, we would buy 30 copies,” he said.

Spanish teacher and educational advisor Brehan Leinengang had lunch with Dayna Hinton every day.

“In the three short years that I knew Dayna, I saw her help buy girls’ dresses for the ball and the ride home. I saw her helping a student find car insurance. I saw her giving a student money for gas when the student was not going to be able to get to work for lack of gas or a paycheck, ”he said. she said. “These are just a few examples of her kind heart and generosity.”

Dayna Hinton did not complete the 2020-21 school year after contracting COVID, Sibbett said.

“When we learned of his passing (in August) it was a very traumatic day and week for staff and students,” he said. “The hope was that she could come back after the first semester.”

Hinton’s room at school is renamed “Dayna Hinton Language Arts Classroom” with a special plaque, Sibbit said. The Cannelton students are also in the process of deciding that a permanent memory of her will be placed at the school.

Perry County, like most of southwest Indiana, has gone from red to orange in the Indiana State Department of Health. Covid-19 map Wednesday, with a rate of positive cases of 443 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

Students in schools in the city of Cannelton have been in virtual education since August 24 and will remain so until at least September 7, according to the school district.

Mark Wilson covers education and the environment at Courier & Press.

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Erica Gill

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