Local high school teacher dies after weeks-long battle with COVID-19

ASHE COUNTY, N.C. — A high school teacher in Ashe County has died after battling COVID-19 for several weeks.

Crystal Bennett taught students with special needs at Ashe County High School for seven years, and was known for putting her students first.

Katlyn Farmer spoke to Channel 9′s Dave Faherty about the difference Bennett made in her son’s life. Her son has autism and Bennett taught him for four years.

“She was someone that he loved and her passing is something -- he’s never dealt with grief like this,” Farmer said.

At the high school on Thursday and across the county, all of the schools were learning remotely and will stay that way through Friday.

“Since it’s a small county and a small school, everybody knows everybody, and it was shocking because it was out of nowhere,” student Jocelyn Farmer said.

In a message to families, the district said it will continually monitor staff members and students for cases of COVID-19 in a county where the positivity rate has climbed to just above 11%.

The district also said that it is providing counselors both at the school and virtually for all students and employees saying that the health and safety of the students and employees are its top priority.

Abby Miller had Bennett as a teacher for two years and said she will be missed.

“It hurts because she’s basically the one that teached me mostly,” Miller said. “It’s kind of scary. COVID is kind of scary.”