El Paso teacher with heartwarming classroom routine dies of Covid-19

El Paso, Texas - Zelene Blancas, an El Paso teacher who went viral after sharing videos of her young students hugging each other in a sweet classroom ritual, has died two months after contracting Covid-19.

Zelene Blancas, the famous teacher who went viral on Twitter for sharing a heartwarming video of her first-grade students, died of Covid-19.
Zelene Blancas, the famous teacher who went viral on Twitter for sharing a heartwarming video of her first-grade students, died of Covid-19.  © Mario Blancas/GoFundMe

Blancas, a bilingual teacher at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary School, first tested positive for the virus on October 20 and was in the intensive care unit for nine weeks, according to a GoFundMe campaign her family set up to help cover her medical expenses.

"It is with a heart full of sadness that I am updating this thread," wrote Nick Adkins on December 28. Blancas was friends with Adkins and volunteered with PinkSocks Life, a non-profit with the mission to promote human connections and support charities.

"Zelene died this morning at 4:45 local time in El Paso. She is at peace now. She is loved by many and will be missed by many," Adkins continued.

According to the GoFundMe page, Blancas took "all precautions possible" to avoid the virus. The school has conducted online classes since March.

"Zelene was a beautiful person who spread love and positivity everyday and that is even more evident now," her family wrote.

In 2018, Blancas went viral on Twitter after sharing a heartwarming video of her first-grade students hugging and high-fiving each other as they left her classroom.

"What a nice way to end the week!!" Blancas captioned the footage. The video has been viewed more than 24 million times.

At the time, Blancas told the El Paso Times that she wanted her students to feel like they "have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment."

"She always made an effort to share kindness, whether it was with a message or a note or just reaching out to her colleagues," Principal Cristina Sanchez-Chavira told ABC News. "Just a very, very loving person."

Many users commented on the video to offer their condolences.

"It's a terrible thing to lose a teacher who instilled this much kindness in her students. There's too little of that today," one wrote.

Cover photo: Mario Blancas/GoFundMe

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