2 Cherry Creek educators die over the weekend, one with a confirmed case of bacterial meningitis

Update: 6:54 p.m., April 12

Most classes will resume at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora on Thursday as district and public health officials continue to investigate the deaths of two educators this past weekend — at least one due to symptoms consistent with bacterial meningitis.

After-school activities, such as SAT exams and athletics will resume as normal as well, according to a Cherry Creek Schools email sent to parents.

Continue reading the most recent updates here.

Our story from April 11 continues below.

Updated 9:01 p.m., April 11

One Cherry Creek School District educator died over the weekend with symptoms consistent with bacterial meningitis.

Maddie Schmidt was an Integrated Learning Center teacher at Eaglecrest High School and worked with students who have significant developmental or cognitive delays. The Arapahoe County health department and Eaglecrest are working to identify students or staff who may have come in contact with Schmidt.

Eaglecrest confirmed a second educator death over the weekend — Judith Geoffroy, a paraprofessional in the Integrated Learning Center — but the cause has not been confirmed. 

Schmidt was young and a high school girls’ soccer coach, according to a staff member. Geoffroy was a classroom aide in the same center and was older.

The spokesperson for the Arapahoe County Public Health said Tuesday evening that the department had only confirmed one case of bacterial meningitis.  

The school has canceled all after-school activities today and tomorrow as well as classes tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12. The PSAT and SAT exams scheduled at the school on Wednesday are also postponed.

In a release to parents, the school said the cancellations and postponements allow the health department to finish contact tracing any students or staff who may have been in close contact with Schmidt. The department will reach out directly to those determined to be in close contact and will offer them preventative antibiotics.

The district said it didn’t have details about the type of Integrated Learning Center classroom that Schmidt worked in, including the nature of how close educators’ contact is with students.

Students in such specialized centers may get hand fed by staff members, require assistance with toileting or have mouths regularly wiped, according to special educators.

According to an Eaglecrest staff member, teachers were told at a meeting addressing the deaths that if the ILC was short staffed, they might be reassigned to cover while a substitute covered their classrooms if not enough teachers volunteered in their off period.

Students with disabilities in such centers typically have federally mandated individual education plans that spell out specific services and staffing ratios. There is currently a critical national shortage of special education teachers.

Bacterial meningitis is a serious condition in which the lining of the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed. It can be deadly but can be treated with antibiotics. About one in 10 people who get bacterial meningitis die, and one in five have severe complications, according to the World Health Organization.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sleepiness and being disoriented or confused. The bacteria that causes the condition can be spread by direct contact with saliva or nose discharge.