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Staff member in Madison School District diagnosed with COVID-19 passes away

Nawai Kalai
Posted at 4:25 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 20:54:55-05

PHOENIX — The Madison Elementary School District is mourning the loss of a beloved staff member, who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Nawai Kalai was a behavior technician in the district's Special Education Department. He posted on Facebook about the diagnosis just days before his death.

"So...Denise and I both tested positive for COVID last week Thursday and so far it’s been hell!! Started out with fever, chills, headaches, and body aches, after all that is when I started experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains, I also have no appetite. This is easily the worst experience of my life, wear your masks and stay safe if not for yourself then do it for the others around you."

"Nawai was an employee who loved the students and staff he worked with. He took time to get to know the students and build a great relationship and foundation of trust to help them build upon their skills and abilities," wrote Jaimie Michaels, a colleague of Nalai. "He would have video meets with those students where he would sing to them, read them books, play along as characters that students wanted to mimic, and continue to encourage the positive behaviors they had been working on when in person."

"It is with a heavy heart that we share that our beloved staff member, Nawai Kalai, passed away this week. Nawai worked in the Special Education Department as a Behavior Technician and was on many of our campuses. Nawai was a gentle and kind soul who worked tirelessly to ensure our students with special needs received a lot of love and attention," said a spokesperson from the Madison School District.

Kalai was also a musician, who played one of his last gigs was at Sweetz Brew in Gilbert. A close friend and employee of the coffee shop said Kalai could always find a way to make her smile.

"He played every song I ever requested whether it was completely ridiculous or not, he did it. And he did that for so many other people too," said Hailey MacCallum. "The really unique thing about him was the way he could express his kindness through his music. I don’t think everybody has the ability to do that but he does that."

Despite a COVID-19 diagnosis, Kalai's cause of death is still undetermined.

The district also saying it did not have any information about the cause of death, but a GoFundMe page created in memory of Kalai.