NYC’s only public school nurse killed by coronavirus caught it at work, brother says

As the coronavirus spread in early March, Marilyn Howard worked side-by-side at Spring Street Community School in Brooklyn with a fellow nurse who came in with a fever and bad cough because she had run out of paid sick days.

Howard, 53, started feeling sick that weekend, when Mayor de Blasio finally decided to close schools for students. She tested positive for COVID-19, and collapsed on April 4 at the peak of the pandemic.

“My sister didn’t have to die, her brother, Haslyn Howard, told The Post. “It was completely preventable.”

Howard is apparently the only school nurse killed by COVID-19, but the city Department of Education has never counted her among its dead.

The DOE said it has lost 68 employees as of April 24 due to the coronavirus. While assigned to the East New York middle-high school, Howard was paid by the city Health Department.

“She loved being a school nurse,” Haslyn said. “She got to help kids day in and day out, and she was good at it.”

Howard was also a doting aunt to eight nieces and nephews. “She was at everyone’s graduation, everyone’s birthday. Every significant moment she would turn up,” her brother said.

She emigrated from Guyana with her parents in 1981 at age 14 and helped care for four younger brothers. She first went to college at age 35, earned a Master’s degree, and recently enrolled in Long Island University to become a nurse practitioner.

Howard started feeling sick on March 14, a day after classes ended. On March 15, de Blasio announced he would close schools. It was too late for Howard.

Because Howard was a nurse, she was tested for COVID-19 on March 16. It took 10 days to receive the dreaded results. By then, however, she felt better and seemed to be recovering, Haslyn said.


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