Two years ago, Zelene Blancas' lovely viral video of her first-graders greetings of one another with a series of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and high fives was seen around the country.
In October, she was diagnosed with contracting COVID-19 and had spent the last seven weeks in the ICU. She died Monday. She was just 35 years of age.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by her family to pay her considerable medical bills because that's how it is in the United States.
As her family, we want to ensure she continues to receive the best medical treatment available. Because her hospitalization has extended this long, she has exhausted all her available paid time off and will soon be without an income and will have to pay the full cost of her health insurance out of pocket. Zelene has a long recovery ahead of her, one which also presents a grave financial burden.
Here is the story of her viral video, from 2018.
Source: El Paso Times
First-graders Antonella Nuñez, Axel Tena and Dante Porras took a minute from their free playtime Tuesday to demonstrate a series of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and high fives.
Antonella, a student at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary in far East El Paso, explained that the series of greetings is the last thing she does in her classroom before going home for the day.
"It’s new and it’s so cute," Antonella said. "It makes me feel happy and excited."
The first-graders were demonstrating something their teacher, Zelene Blancas, filmed and uploaded to Twitter on a whim Nov. 30. By Tuesday afternoon, the minute-long clip had garnered over 13.6 million views and 25,000 retweets, with a flood of supportive comments and emojis.
Blancas' video highlights an example of social-emotional learning, or initiatives and lessons that teach kids how to cope with emotions and conflict while also helping them develop interpersonal skills.
"I want them to go home feeling like I’ll be waiting for them here the next day, or for them to feel like they’ll have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment," Blancas said.
A news report from KTSM at the time.
This is the 35 year old elementary school teacher who had that viral video of her kids choosing a hug, high-five, handshake or wave at the end of the school day, teaching both #kindness & #consent. What a huge loss to our young students & to humanity. #teachertwitter #COVID19 https://t.co/KIrxgDn8T3
— Tatiana Prowell, MD (@tmprowell) December 28, 2020
She is a kind soul. Two years ago, her twitter video showing her young students taking turns giving each other a hug, handshake, high-five and fist bump to fellow classmates, while leaving the classroom at the end of the day went viral. 3/6
— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) December 27, 2020
Appropriately, her Twitter icon was giving a big hug.