Sandra Robinson kept the commitments she made, raising a grandson from the time he was 9 years old and working her way up to a supervisor’s role in the Beaumont ISD transportation department. She was known to give relatives a heads up whenever one of their school-age children stepped out of line.
When the coronavirus struck, she took precautions seriously, too.
“When I got into the hospital to get her things, she had a bag full of hand sanitizer, masks and gloves,” grandson Kevin Robinson, now 26, said Tuesday. “She wasn’t all talk when it came to her safety.”
But it wasn’t enough. Robinson was hospitalized with the virus on Nov. 1 and put on a ventilator. On Monday, she succumbed to a pandemic that her grandson admits he initially underestimated.
“Then the woman who raised me had coronavirus and died from it,” he said.
BISD officials declined repeated requests for comment about Robinson’s death on Tuesday, but her grandson said he was told that health officials think she contracted the virus at work.
She died a day after The Enterprise reported in a front-page story that multiple transportation employees had come forward to complain that coronavirus safety precautions are not always adhered to by coaching staff, student-athletes and other students while on board BISD buses.
“Currently we are busing approximately 900 students across the district,” BISD spokeswoman Hannah LeTulle was quoted as saying in the Sunday story. “The first offense for defiance of the facial covering requirement is a verbal warning. The second offense results in a written referral that is sent to the appropriate administrator and removal of bus privileges.”
Superintendent Shannon Allen mentioned Robinson’s death during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
“That (news) has been devastating,” Allen said. “It makes me reflect on my appreciation for life, just to say every day I can wake up in the morning and be with my family, and talk to my family.”
The district canceled bus routes on Nov. 1 after confirming a positive case, and currently is reporting five in the transportation department.
While there are 31 cases recorded across the district, at least two have not been updated on the tracker as of Tuesday night, putting the total at a minimum of 33.
As family and co-workers try to understand the circumstances that led to Robinson’s infection, she will be remembered fondly by her friends
The 64-year-old spent 30 years — nearly half her life — with the BISD transportation department, and she remained deeply committed to her job, her grandson said.
“She always supported everyone’s kids, whether they work with her or her own,” Kevin Robinson said. “She was a hard worker, and she pretty much worked up until the day she died.”
Nephew James Petry Jr. said she was loving and caring.
“She loved her nieces and nephews,” Petry said. “We could go stay and spend the night. She was the only one in the family who had a large above-ground pool, and she gave us pool parties.”
For family members who had kids in the district, she would contact their parents if they got out of line — but always in a caring way.
Co-workers said Robinson was efficient, kind and fun to be around.
Her grandson said changes should be made.
“One death doesn’t really change a lot,” Kevin Robinson said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice for real change to happen. Once it starts affecting more people, once it hits their families and children, the district will take it more seriously; and then the city, then the state and the whole ladder.”
He said he bus drivers and other employees need more protections.
“I was just a little disappointed, you know?” Robinson said. “I understand the transportation drivers have to be there to get kids to and from school. But for the staff and supervisors, they really could be doing work from home.”