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The first Fayette County Public Schools student has died from COVID-19, a 15-year-old sophomore at The Learning Center, Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins confirmed Thursday.
“We were heartbroken to learn that Christopher ‘CJ’ Gordon Jr., died this morning,” Liggins said in a news release. “He was a kind, thoughtful young man with a bright future ahead of him, and we join his family in mourning his tragic death.”
“Grief counselors from across the district were at The Learning Center today to support students and staff as they absorbed the news,” a news release said. More counselors from the district will continue to be available for as long as students need the extra support.
“I cannot say enough good things about how our staff stepped up today to wrap our students in love and care,” said Liggins. “CJ was a beloved member of the TLC family and our FCPS community, and he will be missed.”
Classmates and teachers remembered CJ as a sweetheart who was a friend to everyone and went out of his way to bring joy to others. He cared about school and worked hard in class – always putting forth his best effort and making the most of every opportunity to learn, district officials said.
“CJ brought kindness, compassion, and laughter into our lives, lifting up those around him with a supportive word or a playful gesture,” said Learning Center Principal Chris Salyers. “Here at The Learning Center, our promise to one another is to ‘do right by people.’ CJ embodied this core commitment every day and shone as an example for our community, state, and nation to live up to.”
Known for his knack to find the fun in everything, CJ enjoyed gaming, anime and photography.
English teacher Eric Little said CJ was “a smart, sweet kid who made my classroom a better place.”
Spanish teacher Walter Leszczynski recalled CJ’s smile.
“The last time I saw him he was laughing,” Leszczynski said. “I’ll always remember that laugh.”
As of Monday, at least 1470 Fayette students have tested positive with COVID in the latest surge of cases this school year, with the Republican-led General Assembly giving school officials much less leeway to close school buildings to curb the virus.
Nearly 9,000 Fayette students have been in quarantine since schools opened in August.
Liggins told the Herald-Leader last week that two Fayette students had been hospitalized with COVID, one on a ventilator.
There have been four deaths of young people under 19 in Kentucky as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, state public health officials have reported.
Earlier in September, a 15-year-old Shelby County student with autism who was diagnosed with COVID before the school year started, died of COVID.