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Assistant principal at Veterans Memorial High School dies after battle with COVID-19

Rolando Gonzalez, an assistant principal at the high school, had been in the ICU battling COVID-19.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Officials with the Corpus Christi Independent School District confirmed Thursday that a Veterans Memorial High School faculty member has died.

Rolando Gonzalez, an assistant principal at the high school, had been in the ICU at the hospital for a couple of weeks battling COVID-19. Officials confirmed to 3News Thursday that he died in the hospital.

A faculty meeting was called Thursday afternoon at Veterans Memorial High School to let Gonzalez's coworkers know of his passing.

News of his death quickly spread on Thursday afternoon. District officials put out a press release concerning the assistant principal's death. He was the fourth CCISD employee to die from complications due to COVID-19.

"When something like this happens it sends a message to all of us who are already fearful and anxious about COVID," said Nancy Vera, President of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers  It tells us that we are really not safe. That it can happen to any of us, and that we are very, very saddened because of Mr. Gonzalez's passing."

Vera hoped that Gonzalez's death will help spark a renewed seriousness among everyone about the dangers this virus poses.

"So what can we do? We can only move forward and hope that things will get better for all of us, and we hope that CCISD will maintain CDC guidelines with fidelity, and we're just waiting to see if CCISD will respond in a very positive manner in order to be able to help our students and our teachers do a better job," Vera said. "Do a better job job helping them do a better job of social distancing."

CCISD School Board President Janie Bell spoke with 3News by phone Thursday and expressed her condolences to the Gonzalez family. Board Member Alice Hawkins also sent her condolences to the Gonzalez family, along with all those employees who work there as well as the students who attend Veterans Memorial High School.

Gonzalez's friends said he grew up in Alice and eventually became an assistant principal at the high school there. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

Gonzalez's death marks the fourth CCISD employee to die from complications due to COVID-19. The others include: Ramon Valdez, who worked in purchasing and distribution -- he passed away in July after serving the district for 28 years; Christine Reyna, a teacher a Los Encinos Elementary School -- she passed away in August after serving the district for 24 years; and Traci Garcia, who worked in the district's Student Support Services Department -- she passed away in September after serving the district for 15 years.

RELATED: LIST: Schools in the Coastal Bend with positive COVID cases

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For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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