At least five schools in the Connally Independent School District in Waco, Texas shut down operations after reports of two teachers dying due to COVID-19.
The temporary shutdown is said to last at least a week. “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,” says Superintendent Wesley Holt.
The two teachers who have died of COVID-19 were identified as Natalia Chansler, 41, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, and David McCormick, 59, a seventh-grade social studies teacher. They were both instructors at Connally Junior High.
Connally Junior High has since confirmed 51 COVID-19 cases starting from classes began on Aug. 18, and according to Assistant Superintendent Jill Bottelberghe, more cases had been confirmed in the last few days.
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However, the assistant superintendent says there was “no correlation found” between the deaths of the two teachers and the cases that were confirmed in the school district.
“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 the spread as far as throughout our student body at those two grade levels,” the assistant superintendent says.
Hard political lines drive the conversations in mask and vaccination mandates– or the lack thereof, in Texas.
Recently, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced an executive order banning government COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Texas regardless of a vaccine’s approval status with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” Abbott’s order states.
It was not known whether the two teachers were vaccinated before their deaths.
Aside from Connally Junior High, a neighboring school district in Axtell, Texas will also be temporarily shutting down for 4 days starting on Friday, September 3rd.
Dr. JR Proctor, the district’s superintendent, says they are experiencing the highest surge of cases since the pandemic began.
On a weekly average, Texas garners at least 15,400 COVID-19 cases with an estimate of 200 deaths per day. This statistic comes from data monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.