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Two teachers at a junior high school in Texas died of complications from COVID-19 within a week of each other, resulting in the district temporarily shutting down for a week through the Labor Day holiday.
Connally Junior High seventh-grade social studies teacher David McCormick, 59, died of COVID-19 on August 24, Connally ISD assistant superintendent Jill Bottelberghe told Fox News. Just four days later, on August 28, sixth-grade social studies teacher Natalia Chansler, 41, also passed away from COVID-19.
The Waco-area school district then made the decision to close all schools until after the Labor Day holiday. Bottelberghe told Fox News that the school has had 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases since school started August 18.
“With the loss of two beloved teachers, we know that concerns for physical and mental health are heightened,” Connally superintendent Wesley Holt said in a message to parents Tuesday, according to KWTX. “We want to assure you that we are focused on measures to take care of our students and staff.”
The Delta variant of COVID-19 has ripped through Texas this summer, with hospitalizations nearing the state’s peak earlier this winter. In McLennan County, where the district is located, 86 of every 100,000 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 right now, according to the New York Times; for comparison, the national average is 30 per 100,000 people.
In spite of the widespread prevalence of the virus in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has so far refused to rescind an executive order restricting local governments and school boards from issuing mask mandates. Last week, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a mask mandate in San Antonio schools.
Abbott, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.