School & District Management

‘Amazing Cook’ for Austin, Texas, Schools Dies From Coronavirus

By David Rauf — April 08, 2020 2 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE

A food service worker from the Austin Independent School District has died after contracting coronavirus, district officials announced. 

Known by colleagues and friends for her sense of humor and laughter, Patricia “Pati” Hernandez, 51, a cook at Casis Elementary School, tested positive for coronavirus and died at an area hospital last week. The district announced her passing to local media on Monday. 

Hernandez had worked in the Austin schools since 2002, and at Casis Elementary School for the last 10 years. 

In a letter to parents, Casis Principal Samuel Tinnon said, “Pati was considered a loyal, faithful, and hardworking individual–who found great joy in serving the students of our school and district.” 

“Ms. Hernandez will be greatly missed, and our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to her family and loved ones,” Tinnon wrote, according to a copy of the letter posted on the local ABC television affiliate’s news website. 

District officials have said they cannot confirm Hernandez’s cause of death, but the Austin American Statesman reported that local health officials declared Hernandez as the fourth victim in Travis County to die from coronavirus.  

Austin school district officials did not return requests for comment. 

See Also: Educators We’ve Lost to the Coronavirus

Hernandez’s friends remembered her spirit and passion for her job in a digital eulogy. 

Ruth Ann Garza, food services manager at Casis elementary, recalled starting her workday for about seven years every morning over coffee with Hernandez. The two would talk about family, friends and “things we wanted to do while we prepared food at school.” 

“Patricia was my teacher, I learned a lot of things from her, she had a great sense of humor, she would laugh at my jokes if they weren’t that funny but always laughing. Patricia was an amazing cook, everything she made was great, she made a great chicken salad! 

“We were co-workers but most of all we were friends.”

Another person who commented on the digital eulogy said Hernandez was “always smiling and laughing and telling jokes.” 

“She loved all of her kids equally and was kind enough to let me into her home and accept me without question. She was a beautiful person and I know she will be missed.” 

Laura Copeland, a lunchroom monitor at Casis elementary, said in the remarks posted online that Hernandez had a “contagious laugh that I looked forward to every day.” 

“I am going to miss seeing her once school starts; always smiling. Miss you, Patricia! You’re looking down on all of us.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Cash for Shots? Districts Take New Tacks to Boost Teacher Vaccinations
In order to get more school staff vaccinated, some district leaders are tempting them with raffles, jeans passes, and cash.
8 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
Getty
School & District Management National Teachers' Union President: Schools Must Reopen 5 Days a Week This Fall
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wants five days a week of in-person school next fall.
4 min read
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Mark Lennihan/AP
School & District Management Principals and Stress: Strategies for Coping in Difficult Times
Running schools in the pandemic has strained leaders in unprecedented ways. Principals share their ideas for how to manage the stress.
6 min read
Illustration of calm woman working at desk
Getty
School & District Management Wanted: Superintendents to Lead Districts Through the End of a Pandemic
Former superintendents say there are signs when it's time to move on. Their replacements are more likely to be greenhorns, experts say.
4 min read
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner speaks at a news conference at the school district headquarters in Los Angeles on March 13, 2020. Beutner will step down as superintendent after his contract ends in June, he announced Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Austin Beutner, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, will step down after his contract ends in June.
Damian Dovarganes/AP