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School District Shuts Briefly After COVID Kills 2 Teachers

Closure will allow for isolation and recovery, Texas superintendent says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2021 7:10 PM CDT
School District Shuts Briefly After COVID Kills 2 Teachers
Stillman Middle School students climb stairs to class earlier this month in Brownsville, Texas.   (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

(Newser) – A Central Texas school district closed its schools until after the Labor Day holiday Tuesday after two teachers died last week of COVID-19. Connally Independent School District officials closed its five suburban Waco schools for the rest of the week after the COVID-19 death on Saturday of Natalia Chansler, 41, a sixth grade social studies teacher at Connally Junior High School, said Assistant Superintendent Jill Bottelberghe. Chansler's death came days after David McCormick, 59, a seventh grade social studies teacher at the same school, died of COVID-19, Bottelberghe said. It was not immediately known if either teacher was vaccinated, the AP reports.

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The school has had 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases since classes began Aug. 18. Bottelberghe said Monday that more cases had been confirmed in the past few days, but she did not know if any have been directly traced to Chansler. "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 a Monday email, Superintendent 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." District buildings also will be deep cleaned and sanitized in the interim. Connally High School's football game will be played Friday night as scheduled. The rolling seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases in Texas was 15,400 as of Sunday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rolling seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths in Texas was 200 per day.

(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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