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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Taylor Whisenant says Kattie Brocato cared for the children in her classroom as if they were her own.

According to district officials, Brocato, a third-grade teacher at Lynn Fanning Elementary School in Madison County, died of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Whisenant worked alongside Brocato at Lynn Fanning last year, during what they called “The COVID Year”. She says after everything they went through together, it’s hard to believe that Kattie is gone.

“We made it through the last year and got quarantined and sick with other things and just all this stuff, and then for this to happen all of the sudden, it’s just unbelievable,” Whisenant said.

Lynn Fanning Elementary School Principal Tausha Knight shared a message on the school’s Facebook page Monday confirming Brocato’s passing. According to the post, Brocato worked at Madison Cross Roads and Elementary and Endeavor Elementary before transferring to Lynn Fanning.

Whisenant remembered Brocato as someone who always loved to have a good laugh.

“She had a student in her class, his thing was telling bad jokes. But she knew I could appreciate a bad science joke. So she would send her student down to my room to tell me the bad joke of the day. She was just fun,” Whisenant said.

According to the Madison County School’s last COVID-19 dashboard update on September 8th, ten students and faculty at Lynn Fanning were positive for COVID-19. There were 302 positive cases district wide.

Madison County began the school year under a mask optional policy. However, after a significant number of students tested positive for the virus during the first week, the district began requiring masks on August 13th. News 19 asked if the district knew what percentage of their staff were vaccinated against COVID-19, but a district spokesperson said they are not allowed to ask employees for vaccination status, citing HIPAA.

Grief counselors were at Lynn Fanning and Endeavor Elementary schools on Monday to provide support for students and staff impacted by Brocato’s passing.