A valley education community is mourning the loss of a veteran teacher who lost her battle with Covid-19 this month, and now her family and friends have a plea about fighting the virus with vaccines.
Flavia Reyes has educated elementary school students in Desert Sands Unified School District for more than two decades. Her loved ones said a vaccine would have saved her life.
"Really, we are so sad because we are going to miss her a lot," said Ana Maria Razo Gonzalez, Reyes' friend and fellow educator.
"It's been very hard on the staff," said retired teacher Candace Mikulich. "We were like a family; we continue to be like a family."
Reyes, fondly known as Favi, taught early childhood at Adams Early Childhood Learning Center in La Quinta. Last month, she came down with Covid-19, and just more than two weeks ago, the virus claimed her life.
Reyes' family is raising money to cover funeral expenses. If you'd like to help, click here.
Her friends and former colleagues remember an altruistic soul and positive spirit. They said she instilled values like courage, faith and hope in the lives of those she touched.
"She was always meeting people former students," Mikulich said. "They would see her in the grocery store and she would immediately recognize them from years back. She just had that effect."
"'You can do it,' Favi would say. 'You can do it,'" Gonzalez said. "Always she supported me; she supported my family."
Loved ones said Reyes was afraid of getting a Covid-19 vaccine, with fears of unwanted side effects driving her hesitancy.
"People are afraid of the effects and sometimes you wait and that’s too late," Mikulich said.
Riverside County right now is hitting a plateau in the race to get people vaccinated.
Monday a Curative vaccination clinic was empty. The once booked solid Indio Fairgrounds is now mostly full of staff. Health officials said it's worries like those Favi had that could hinder the fight against coronavirus.
"I beg you, it's possible to do it, to get a shot," Gonzalez said. "We don't like to lose any person like Favi."
Now, it's small mementos like the pair of glasses through which she saw the world that her friends and family will remember Reyes by. "We continue to pray for her, but not just for her," Gonzalez said. "We need to support her family because right now, their hearts are very broken."