LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – UPDATE | The family of 24-year-old D’Anthony Dorsey, a marine biology teacher at Auburndale High School, says the teacher has died due to complications from COVID-19.

ORIGINAL STORY | A mother is calling on parents and elected leaders to reconsider their stance on masks as her 24-year old son lays in a hospital bed fighting COVID-19 at Lakeland Regional Health.

D’Anthony Dorsey, a marine biology teacher at Auburndale High School, has been on a ventilator for three weeks, according to his mother, Lydia Dorsey.

His mother said he has no comorbidities and has been a longtime athlete.

Dorsey does not know if her son is vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I just don’t know and I wish I did know because I think it would matter one of way or the other – either to tell the story he wasn’t vaccinated and he’s young and healthy and look what happened or if he was vaccinated, to say even though you’re vaccinated, still wear your mask, still be cautious,” she said.

It is not known whether he was exposed to COVID-19 at school.

“Just within the first week of school, he got sick – so the likelihood that he contracted it at school or through the meeting of the parents or students is what we’re leaning towards because he has not been anywhere,” she said.

Courtesy – Lydia Dorsey

“He has been steadfast in his dedication to the students and staff members of Auburndale High. Students respect him and enjoy his gentle spirit and caring nature. We are all praying for his swift recovery,” Auburndale High School Principal Tye Bruno wrote in a statement.

When Dorsey first became ill, he was turned away from the hospital twice, according to his mother. He was admitted at Lakeland Regional Health after his symptoms got worse.

“I stood there and I watched them rush into his room and intubate him and that is something you are never prepared for,” said Lydia Dorsey.

It’s been more than three weeks since that harrowing moment.

“The delta variant doesn’t care. It doesn’t discriminate against old or young, healthy or not healthy,” Polk Education Association President Stephanie Yocum said.

“His CO2 [levels] are about the same, so that’s ok. I always say that as long as we don’t go backwards, I will praise God that we stay where we are,” Dorsey said after seeing the latest update on her son.

While his oxygen levels showed an improvement Tuesday, Dorsey is starting dialysis due to kidney failure.

Courtesy: Lydia Dorsey

She has a message for parents who are opposed to their children wearing masks.

“They don’t want their children to wear masks because it’s uncomfortable or their kids can’t breathe as much or they’re worried about bacteria. What you don’t ever want to see is your child being intubated,” she said.

The Polk County Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard shows 346 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since last month.