Texas school temporarily closes after two teachers die of coronavirus complications

A school district in Texas will temporarily close all of its campuses this week following the death of two teachers from COVID-19.

As the Waco Tribune-Herald reported, two teachers at Connally Junior High School died in the same week, leading to the school district's announcement that its campuses would be closed for the rest of this week beginning Tuesday.

Sixth grade social studies teacher Natalia Chansler died on Saturday, according to Assistant Superintendent of Human resources Jill Bottelberghe. Seventh grade social studies teacher David McCormick died on Aug. 24.

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Chansler had joined the Connally Independent School District (ISD) in the 2020-2021 school year. She reported that she tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 25.

"With the loss of two beloved teachers, we know that concerns for physical and mental health are heightened," Connally ISD said in a message to parents obtained by McClatchy News. "We want to assure you that we are focused on measures to take care of our students and staff."

"Due to a continued increase in Covid-19 cases and an increase in absences (of staff and students), we have made the decision to close all Connally ISD campuses through Monday, September 6th," Connally ISD said in a letter to parents shared with The Hill. "Our 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."

"I think more than anything we are asking our staff and parents as a community, as a whole, to unite in the fight against COVID," Bottelberghe said.

Texas schools have become the center of the debate regarding COVID-19 safety measures in schools. Numerous Texas school districts have issued mask mandates for students and teachers, in direct defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) executive order banning such measures.

Connally ISD does not currently mandate that students and staff wear masks, though it recommends that masks be worn in its back-to-school guidelines.

Updated at 5 p.m.