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Education

Collin College Dean Of Nursing Dies From COVID-19 Complications

The Plano Campus (Spring Creek) is part of the Collin College system.
Wikimedia Commons
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The Plano Campus (Spring Creek) is part of the Collin College system.

Collin College’s dean of nursing, Jane Leach, has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to the school.

Leach came to the college in McKinney two years ago and in that time helped launch the school’s baccalaureate program in nursing. She previously chaired the nursing program at North Central Texas College in Gainesville.

On the way to becoming dean, she served as a faculty member at several schools and before that, was a nurse at various hospitals.

In a letter to faculty on Wednesday, Collin College system President Neil Matkin forwarded a request from Leach’s family that her “untimely passing not be politicized or used to attack anyone.”

In a request to clarify what that meant, the school did not respond.

Former Collin College history professor Lora Burnett, however, said such a request already politicizes the death of Leach, a professor she greatly admired.

“It’s because of politics that vaccination has been turned into a political issue rather than a health issue,” Burnett said, “And because of that, people aren’t getting vaccinated and COVID is spreading, and the delta variant is spreading.”

Leach is the second member of the Collin College nursing department to die from COVID-19 complications.

Last year, as the pandemic stretched hospital staffs to near breaking points, 70 year-old nursing instructor Iris Meda came out of retirement to teach Collin College nursing students. Though she wore a mask and protective glasses, Meda’s daughter said her mother didn’t use a face shield while teaching lab students face-to-face.

Her daughter said a student unwittingly exposed her mother to the virus.

At the time of Meda’s death in 2020, Collin College had come under increased scrutiny because Matkin had downplayed the threat of the coronavirus. He had written that “the effects of this pandemic have been blown utterly out of proportion across our nation.”

In Collin College’s statement about Leach, she was remembered as a great leader and “powerful force in making things happen.”

It’s not known if Leach had an underlying health condition, had received a COVID-19 vaccine, or was a so-called breakthrough COVID case.

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Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

Corrected: August 13, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Iris Meda did not use a face mask.