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

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Waco, Texas — A Central Texas school district closed its schools Tuesday until after the Labor Day holiday 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 Saturday COVID-19 death 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 Connally Junior High, died of COVID-19, Bottelberghe said.

It wasn't immediately known if either teacher was vaccinated.

Connally High School football coach Terry Gerik says the Cadets will play La Vega as scheduled Friday night.

The school has had 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases since classes began Aug. 18, Bottelberghe said Monday. She added that more cases had been confirmed in the last few days, but she didn't know if any have been directly traced back 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. This closure will also allow time for deep cleaning and sanitizing of all CISD facilities."

In addition to the Connally ISD closure, the Axtell ISD will be closing its doors for 4 days starting Friday, until Tuesday, reports CBS Waco affiliate KWTX-TV.

The district's superintendent, Dr. JR Proctor, said it's experiencing the highest surge of cases since the pandemic began.

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

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