The Connally Independent School District in Waco, Texas has shut down after the passing of two teachers from COVID-19
As a new pandemic-era school year ramps up, so do the heartbreaking headlines about educators lost to COVID. For the second time in a matter of days, we bring you a story with the same phrase in it — two teachers die from COVID. This time, it’s at a school in Waco, Texas. The Connally Independent School District is now closed through the Labor Day holiday after losing two teachers in the same week.
NPR reports that two junior high teachers from Connally Junior High have passed away within a few days of each other. Sixth grade social studies teacher Natalia Chansler, 41, died on Saturday. Seventh grade social studies teacher David McCormick, 59, died shortly before Chansler, according to district Assistant Superintendent Jill Bottelberghe.
Bottelberghe hasn’t said if either teacher was vaccinated but does note that “We have not found any correlation” between the two educators’ deaths. “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,” she says.
In an email, Superintendent Wesley Holt says the district 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.”
Since August 18 when school first started, Connally Junior High has seen 51 COVID cases. More cases have been added in recent days but Bottelberghe couldn’t confirm if they were linked to Chansler.
The plan is for students and staff to return to school on September 7. NBC affiliate KCENTV reports that the district will host a vaccination clinic on September 13 at Connally High School, where this week’s football game is still is still happening as scheduled. The shots will be available to staff, parents and the Waco community.
Texas is among several states with a governor that’s doing everything possible to stop schools from mandating masks. Texas itself is posting a daily average of 16,629 COVID cases and 212 deaths.