DOUGLAS — The administration for the Douglas Unified School District held a COVID-19 memorial last Friday evening for those who have lost their life to this horrific pandemic.

While no DUSD employees have passed away due to the virus some employees have lost family members.

“It’s amazing how fast time seems to be going by, yet we are still in a place of uncertainty,” Ana Samaniego, DUSD superintendent, said in a prewritten statement. “Things have not been or felt ‘normal’ for almost a year, and although there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it is not here yet. It seems as though we take one step forward and a few back.

“COVID has been very difficult to deal with, both personally and professionally. Many of us, unfortunately, have had to go through the fear and anxiety of this virus and what it has caused in our own families. Many have been able to overcome the virus, though like on a battlefield, it has left its scars. While others have been hit harder and have left deeper wounds and great loss. It has been difficult trying to keep up with so many cases and having to adjust to the circumstances.”

In an effort to honor the DUSD family members that have suffered a loss during this most unprecedented time, a memorial outside the district office in honor of the staff that have lost family and friends due to COVID was held. The event included a drive-by around the district office.

Fifty-four luminated bags honoring those who had lost their lives were on display in front of the main office on 12th Street and the names of those on the bags were read by Samaniego following a moment of silence.

“May the Lord open a place where they are living a good life and may they rest in peace,” the superintendent said. “This is an unfortunate time that we are in. Douglas is not absent of the loss.”

Denise Cox, DUSD’s assistant superintendent and human resources director, helped organize the event,

“Many of our staff have lost loved ones to COVID and so we wanted to do something to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers,” she said.

Samaniego has lost three family members to COVID and their names were among those mentioned during the memorial.

Nadia Melendez, whose husband, Juan, is a DUSD employee, has had three family members, Rita Dagnino, Rodolfo Dagnino and Benny Urquijo, lose their lives to COVID-19.

“It was really nice of them to do something like this,” she said. “It lets me know that they do care.”

Melendez said losing the family members this past year has helped them become closer as a family and do a better job of trying to take care of one another.

“This has opened our eyes as to how deadly this disease really is,” she said.