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A heart in the right place

Teacher emphasizes student awareness of COVID losses.

A Marlton teacher and her students are making people aware of the lives lost to COVID by placing yellow hearts on windows in their school, as both a tribute and a reminder that the virus is still a threat.

Several organizations have used the yellow heart symbol to signify a loss directly attributed to COVID. Last month, St. Joan of Arc School art teacher Lori Filipek had her students create the hearts to emphasize the number of lives lost in the pandemic. The issue was personal for her: Filipek lost her mother to the virus early last year. 

The teacher said she wanted her students to do the activity as a way to remind people that, despite fewer cases and restrictions, the virus remains a threat that has affected millions of people, including survivors whose symptoms linger.

“(As the mask mandate ended), I felt like some people thought (the pandemic) was over, and I wanted us to have a way to remember the people who have passed and bring awareness to the people still struggling,” Filipek explained.

“I just wanted kids to be aware that the yellow heart is a symbol to remember that.”

Lisa Guirguis, Filipek’s sister, said that since their mom’s passing, her sister has tried  to find something for her students to do that would bring awareness of COVID deaths, and  she noted that the hearts’ window placement make it easier for parents to see them.

“We’ve lost nearly one million people at this point, so she just wanted to do something simple but memorable,” Guirguis noted. “So (Filipek) asked each student to draw a little yellow heart, and then she attached the hearts to the windows of each classroom.

“The principal had shared the activity with the (students’) families, so that they would be able to see the yellow hearts adorned on the windows when they’re picking their children up,” she added. 

Filipek said student responses to the activity were positive, as the classroom discussed how the virus has impacted their lives and families.

“We talked about it,” the teacher said. “It really gave me the chance to open the door and find out how it affected (students) families as well. It was a way for us to communicate, because it doesn’t seem like people really like to talk about it, so I thought it was a good thing that the students could discuss it if they chose to.”

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