Teacher wore oxygen mask for virtual classes before losing battle with COVID


When Philamena Belone was hospitalized for COVID-19 and pneumonia for three days, she was dedicated to getting back to her passion, which was teaching.

Phillip Belone, her brother, told CNN that his sister taught Zoom classes for behaviorally challenged students during the day and worked with those who had no internet at night via phone.

After being hospitalized, the third-grade teacher taught while wearing an oxygen mask from her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I know that she kept wanting to go home to teach. She wanted to be with the kids that she was teaching,” Phillip Belone said. “She was actually on oxygen teaching when she would have been in the hospital, but her condition got to the point where she couldn’t physically breathe.”

On November 28, the teacher returned to the hospital. Suddenly, she was put on a ventilator as she struggled for her life.

Things took a turn for the worst on December 11 when the 44-year-old passed away at the Lovelace Medical Center. She leaves behind three children, one grandchild, her parents, and her brother and sister.

Her brother explained how she gave her heart to her students.

“The most difficult students were given to my sister,” Belone said. “She taught kids everyone gave up on but her. She never gave up on anyone.”

Belone was a teacher at Wingate Elementary School in Fort Wingate, New Mexico. Her school confirmed her death to CNN.

“Her smile radiated throughout her classroom, and her laughter could be heard echoing down the hallways,” Principal Eric North said. “She always had a kind word for others who came across her path, whether in the cafeteria, at the buses, or on the playground. Her energy and sense of humor were contagious.”

Philamena Belone was described as a devoted, loving mother to three children.

The family created a GoFundMe to help pay Philamena’s funeral. Her brother said that they met their fundraising goal within 48 hours.

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