STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — A longtime Montcalm County educator has died from COVID-19.

Family members confirm, 63-year-old Connie Williams, a nearly 30-year Montcalm Area ISD employee, died Thursday.

William’s obituary talks of the love she had of working with both kids and coworkers.

Her death follows the September death of Carson City Crystal paraprofessional Michelle McCrackin.

While both were educators, public health officials warn it’s not an automatic indicator that either picked it up or transmitted it at school.

Mid-Michigan Health Department Health Officer Marcus Cheatham says the problems start well outside of the classroom walls, with the community in general not taking COVID-19 precautions.

“That’s where we’re seeing the cases coming from. And that’s what happens is they get into the schools,” Cheatham said. “So, it’s not really spreading inside the schools. It’s that people are going home, going back into the community and picking it up there. And then we’re catching them in school.”

Cheatham says schools are doing a good job of working to stop the spread of COVID-19 by requiring masks and making sure social distancing rules are followed.

The problems develop outside of the classroom from people not masking up and getting too close, especially at gatherings.

“We do the contract tracing. Every morning we get together and talk about where the cases are coming from. It’s definitely the community spread,” Cheatham said.

He says it’s not one large event in particular that causing the community spread. But when people ignore the advice of health professionals, they bring it home and sometimes to school.  

“Unfortunately, we’re not seeing people stepping up and doing what we need them to do, so that would be my message,” Cheatham said.