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Connally Junior High to close after second teacher dies of COVID-19

Connally Junior High to close after second teacher dies of COVID-19

Connally Junior High School

Connally Junior High School

Connally Independent School District is mourning the second Connally Junior High death from COVID-19 in one week and is closing the campus for the rest of the week starting Tuesday.

Natalia Chansler, a sixth-grade social studies teacher who had joined the district in the 2020-21 school year, died on Saturday, said Jill Bottelberghe, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Chansler had previously taught at La Vega ISD and Waco ISD.

Chansler was last on campus Aug. 25, the same day she provided notice she had been tested and confirmed positive for COVID-19.

“We are very heartbroken,” Bottelberghe said. “This is the second staff member that we have lost in a matter of a week due to COVID. It is very devastating as far as the students, the staff, and the community as a whole.”

David McCormick, 59, died on Aug. 24 of COVID-19. He was the seventh-grade social studies teacher and was last on campus on Aug. 18.

After Chansler reported she had been confirmed positive for COVID-19, the school district conducted contact tracing and informed anyone who had been in close contact. Bottelberghe said students and teachers were given the option to quarantine if they had been exposed.

If teachers decided to not quarantine, they had to be tested for COVID-19 at least every two days until the usual quarantine period was over.

Bottelberghe said the entire junior high staff was tested for the virus between Sunday and Monday.

Since classes began on Aug. 18, Connally Junior High has had 51 confirmed positive cases. Though more cases have popped up in the last few days, Bottelberghe said it is unknown if any have been directly traced back to Chansler.

The junior high will be closed after Monday’s classes for a deep sanitation and will remain closed until after Labor Day.

Connally Learning Childhood Center also closed last week based on recommendations from the health department after 15 teachers tested positive for the virus. The center will also reopen the day after Labor Day.

“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, adding that they hope parents are self-monitoring and reporting any symptoms.

Bottelberghe encourages parents to have their children tested for COVID-19 if they are experiencing symptoms as the district has testing available for students free of charge.

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Hailing from the Chicagoland area, Amaris E. Rodriguez is a 2019 graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and formerly worked the Journal & Topics news organization in Des Plains, Illinois.

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