After two teachers die of Covid-19 in one week, a Texas school district implements the mask warrant

Connally ISD, in McClellan County, closed all of its campuses on Aug. 31 due to increased Covid-19 cases and increased absences of students and staff.

He announced last week that students, staff and visitors should wear masks to all schools and buildings in the district when face-to-face classes resume on Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday.

“As educators, it is our duty to keep our students safe and healthy. We believe that instituting a mask warrant is a step in doing so,” Wesley Holt, superintendent of ISD Connally, said in an email to parents and employees.

Holt’s email also included a Connally ISD letter received from the Waco-McLennan County Health District stating that the spread of Covid-19 in the county “continues to accelerate at an alarming rate.”

Last week, the county recorded a higher number of new daily cases, daily hospitalizations and daily deaths due to Covid-19 than at any time during the pandemic, according to the letter.

“We are at a critical juncture for hospital capacity and we need to take steps to curb the spread of this disease. The most effective way for you to have an immediate impact on your schools is to drastically increase the use of face masks,” he said. the letter.

Two social studies teachers at Connally Junior High School died last month after testing positive for Covid-19. Seventh-grade teacher David A. McCormick, 59, died Aug. 24 and Natalia Chansler, 41, Aug. 28, according to the district.

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Chansler’s sister told CNN she was trying to decide what vaccine to take when she got sick.

During the closure, the district provided counselors to help students cope with the loss of their teachers and facilitated testing for students, district employees and the community.

“About 600 people participated in the two-day event with an overall positivity rate of 16.3%. Many of those identified as positive by the virus were asymptomatic,” Holt wrote.

The district said it also thoroughly cleaned and sanitized all of its buildings.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in May banning mask warrants, but several districts have challenged or attempted to evade the order and require masks.
Local mask warrants have sparked legal battles in state courts.
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On Tuesday, in a post on Facebook, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would sue school districts in court for warrants.

The health district said that at the beginning of this school year children aged 17 and under accounted for 24% of Covid-19 cases in the county. This compares with 8% of global cases at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Health officials also said the vaccination rate for eligible children 12 years of age and older “is extremely low.”

Connally ISD encourages eligible staff and students to get vaccinated and has scheduled a free vaccination test at the high school gym on Sept. 13.

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