CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Students and faculty in Cranston are mourning the sudden loss of a beloved teacher and coach.
Meaghan McGonagle, 41, died Thursday morning after a brief battle with COVID-19, according to Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins. Hopkins said McGonagle had been hospitalized for about a week prior to her death.
“This is a young woman, 41 years old, in good health, that had the early vaccinations,” Hopkins said. “”She was just a good person with a young family … I’m heartbroken for her kids, for her husband, and we’re sending our heartfelt sympathy from the city.”
McGonagle was a teacher and coach in the district for several years. Most recently, she worked at Cranston High School East as a business teacher and coached the boys and girls volleyball teams.
The district announced McGonagle’s passing in a letter to the community Thursday. Upon learning of her passing, the district opted to dismiss Cranston East students early.
“[She] coached them through some championship seasons. The kids loved her,” Hopkins said, adding that he worked with McGonagle for years at Cranston East prior to being elected mayor. “She was well-loved. She wasn’t one of those fly-by-night teachers that come and go. She was there, after school, with the kids, and very much a part of the Cranston East community.”
Grief counselors will be made available for students and faculty in the coming days.
Hopkins said McGonagle’s death should also serve as a reminder of how dangerous COVID can be.
“To have a young teacher [die] like that … it’s shocking,” he said. “It sends a message to all of us too, you know, follow the state protocol, get the vaccinations, get the booster shots. If you don’t, then wear your masks and do the things that you’re supposed to do to protect other people, not just yourself.”