Paul Hilditch, who taught at Conyers School in Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, died in hospital on December 27 after contracting coronavirus. He was aged just 55 when he lost his life.
Paul taught engineering and technology at the secondary school and sixth form.
Tributes flooded in on social media after Teeside Live reported the tragic news.
“No way I’m reading this, he was one the best teachers in there. Rest in peace,” said one shocked student.
One parent of a pupil said: “My son really took to him and the way he taught… Absolutely heartbreaking, thoughts and love to his family.”
Another posted: “Such a terrible loss. My daughter thought he was a great teacher. My thoughts go out to his family.”
The Headteacher of Conyers School, Louise Spellman, said she and members of her staff were “deeply saddened” at the sudden loss of their colleague and friend.
“Paul was a fantastic teacher who thought so much of his students and really gave his all to ensure they achieved their best,” added Ms Spellman.
Mr Williamson added that “keeping schools open is uppermost in our plans”, but the government “must always act swiftly when circumstances change”.
Considering the new covid variant and rising infection rates, chains of transmission are hoped to be broken via a “staggered return” for secondary-age pupils.
The majority of primary school children, on the other hand, are expected to return to school on Monday, January 4.
“Ongoing testing for primary school staff will follow later in January,” said Mr Williamson.
The Education Secretary continued: “We will be working to establish an ambitious testing programme… reducing the need for self-isolation where students and staff test negative for the virus.”
Mass testing is also set to be introduced in schools for student and staff.
“All pupils in exam years are to return during the week beginning the 11th January, with all secondary schools and college students returning full time on the 18th January,” Mr Williamson confirmed.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The majority of people who are symptomatic will experience one of the following signs of an infection, certified the NHS:
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- A high temperature
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that other signs of a COVID-19 infection include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Should you have coronavirus symptoms, the NHS urge you to order a free NHS coronavirus test during the first eight days of showing signs of infection.
Test sites are open seven days a week, and home test kits are also available.