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Officials: Oklahoma City 8th-Grader Dies From COVID-19

Mary Golda Ross Middle School / Facebook
Mary Golda Ross Middle School in Oklahoma City, where Clarence Johnson III, 13, was enrolled to begin school prior to his death from COVID-19.

An Oklahoma City Public Schools middle school student has died of COVID-19, officials announced Thursday.

"OKCPS is saddened to learn of the passing of Clarence Johnson, III, who was enrolled to begin 8th grade at Mary Golda Ross Middle School after attending Roosevelt Middle School last year," the district said in a statement. "Crisis counseling is available to students and staff. We will keep his family and friends in our thoughts during this very difficult time."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister referenced Johnson's death without naming him during a regular meeting of the state board of education Thursday morning.

"Now, I do need to talk about, you know, what should be an exciting time, going back to school -- but it's a time where it's actually been -- there are good things and some tragedies that have occurred," Hofmeister told the board. "Just, in fact, this morning I learned of an eighth grader that has passed away of COVID."

Hofmeister said she had also recently learned of the COVID death of a teacher in Grove.

In a Facebook post by an individual claiming to have taught Johnson, he was described as a 13-year-old student who "everyone knows and loves" and who died Aug. 19.

A GoFundMe campaign from Johnson's family had raised over $5,000 by noon Thursday.

"Tre planned on playing football this season," according to the fundraiser description. "Tre was a happy boy, he had a strong love of all kinds of music, food, video games, animals & social media, and of course his family & friends. Tre was taken from us way too soon, but he’s home now."

The office of Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has not held a COVID-19 press conference since March, did not return multiple requests for comment about Johnson's death.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, as of Tuesday three children ages 12-14 were confirmed to have been killed by COVID-19 to date, though the state reports a confirmed death toll roughly 1,200 lower than the CDC's provisional death toll for COVID-19 in Oklahoma. The first reported pediatric COVID death in the state was a 13-year-old girl at Fort Sill in Comanche County.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020.
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