Beloved choir teacher at McKinley Elementary hospitalized with COVID-19

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Students at McKinley Elementary know 31-year-old Kenneth Whitchard as an energized and passionate choir teacher. But for the last two days he’s been at Memorial Hospital – fighting to breathe.

Through labored breaths – Kenneth Witchard spoke about his battle with covid in a heartfelt facebook video.

“It’s really lonely,” Kenneth said. “People who think this stuff is a joke, it’s not a joke.”

Whitchard has been a choir teacher at McKinley Elementary School for almost a decade. On Sunday – he was admitted to Memorial Hospital with pneumonia which stemmed from a corona virus infection.

“I just want to hug my kids and be with my wife. I miss my students and I miss teaching.”

His wife Karynn Whitchard says she isn’t sure how he could’ve gotten infected. They initially thought it was just his asthma flaring up.

“We did everything that we were supposed to do,” said Karynn Whitchard.

She says doctors told her and her two sons to stay at home – so they havent gotten tested yet. This is the longest she and her husband have been apart since they got married 11 years ago.

“He is one of the most loving and caring people that I know he always puts other people before himself,” Karynn said. “His kids at school are his kids.”

Outside of teaching at McKinley- Kenneth started an online choir academy with his wife during the pandemic.

“He loves what he does,” Karynn said. “He loves the kids that he works with at McKinley. He loves everything about it.”

Many of his former and current students have reached out to offer support.

“Thank you so much for the messages because they help,” Kenneth said. “I sometimes go back to them and just read them when I feel a little alone.”

“That ‘what if’ is always in the back of your mind,” Karynn said. “Because what if it turns bad what if he gets worse. So we’ve had our moments but overall we’re trying to stay positive.”

Kenneth Whitchard and his wife are hoping that he can be out of the hospital by Thursday.

Watch Kenneth’s full Facebook video here:

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