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Texas school district closes after two teachers die of COVID-19

A Central Texas school district closed its schools Tuesday until after the Labor Day holiday following the deaths from COVID-19 of two teachers last week.

Connally Independent School District officials closed the district’s five suburban Waco schools for the rest of the week after the death Saturday of Natalia Chansler, 41, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Connally Junior High School, said Assistant Supt. Jill Bottelberghe.

Chansler’s death from COVID-19 came days after David McCormick, 59, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at the school, also died of COVID-19, Bottelberghe said.

It was not immediately known if either teacher was vaccinated.

Connally High School football coach Terry Gerik says the school’s team will play a game as scheduled Friday night.

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The junior high school has had 51 confirmed coronavirus cases since classes began Aug. 18, Bottelberghe said Monday. She added that more cases had been confirmed in the last few days, but she did not know if any have been directly traced back to Chansler.

Some Republican-controlled states have enacted laws or issued orders prohibiting school districts from requiring masks.

“We have not found any correlation” between the two deaths, Bottelberghe said. “They were at two different grade levels even though they worked under the same content area, but we have recognized that there has been an increase in spread as far as throughout our student body at those two grade levels.”

In an email Monday, Supt. Wesley Holt said the hope “is that the closure and holiday break will provide those who are positive with the virus or exposed to others with the virus, the time to isolate and recover. This closure will also allow time for deep cleaning and sanitizing of all CISD facilities.”

The rolling seven-day average of new daily coronavirus cases in Texas was 15,400 as of Sunday, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rolling seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths in Texas was 200.


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