Chesapeake teacher contracts COVID, loses unborn baby; believes school system acted carelessly

Posted at 2:45 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 18:13:59-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - When Che Marie Beam went back to school after Christmas, she felt unsafe and tells News 3 reporter Chelsea Donovan so many students were sick. She says she even brought in her own air purifier as an added precaution, but she still contracted COVID-19 and was sick for weeks.

Days later, she lost her unborn baby.

"During the ultrasound, we learned that my baby boy, David Brandon Beam, no longer had a heartbeat. He was born sleeping on January 27. He was perfect - fully developed finger and toes," said Brandon Beam.

Beam spoke out to the Chesapeake School Board Monday night. His wife, Che, is a schoolteacher at Southeastern Elementary.

"On Wednesday, January 12, inside the two-week recommendation, my wife, who was pregnant and worked for six years at Chesapeake Public Schools, began feeling sick and tested positive for COVID," said Beam.

Che went back to the classroom on January 3. Learning was not virtual in the district; however, masks were mandated.

She tested positive for COVID on January 12 and was 15 weeks pregnant.

"He should still be alive and growing inside my wife's womb. You should have done more for David and to protect us," said Beam.

The family tells News 3 their doctors told Che the baby had no abnormalities or genetic issues, and while they can't confirm for sure, her doctors believe she contracted COVID and it contributed to the baby's death.

We asked another physician about COVID-19 risks in pregnant women. He says the data is not conclusive.

"There are statistics right now, and there are studies that show that it does cause increase risk and studies that show it doesn't," said Dr. Ryan Light with Greenbrier Family Medicine in Chesapeake. "When you combine all those studies together, it is not statistically significant."

However, Dr. Light says COVID will not transfer to the baby inside the womb.

Related: Doctors warn of COVID surge in those who are pregnant

"The placenta acts as a barrier in protecting the baby," he said.

News 3 reached out and got a statement from Chesapeake Schools. Below is their statement:

Chesapeake Public Schools was very sorry to learn of the unexpected passing on January 27, 2022 of the unborn child of one of our teachers. We wish to extend our condolences to Che’ Marie Beam, Brandon Beam, and the family.

Mrs. Beam has told the Division that she got Covid-19 after winter break, and we understand she believes this affected her pregnancy.   When school resumed on January 3, 2022, masks were required for all students and staff unless they were approved for an accommodation. Also, during this time the School Division added an extra layer of mitigation with optional Covid-19 testing sites at selected elementary schools for students and staff as well as hosting vaccination sites. Schools continued to follow our other existing health and safety protocols: 

  • Encouraging physical distancing to the greatest extent possible
  • Promoting effective hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations for those eligible to receive them
  • Encouraging all students and staff to stay at home if they experience any symptoms of infectious illness.

Chesapeake Public Schools has advised employees and parents that state regulations do not allow for an entire school district to be moved to virtual learning due to Coivd-19. Instead, the school district moves individual schools to virtual learning as needed. Each school is evaluated daily on student absenteeism, staff capacity, and Covid-19 cases at the school. Staff and families are notified by the school principal when the level of impact shifts at a school. 

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