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Services scheduled for local teacher who died after contracting COVID-19

Colleague who died of COVID-19 earlier was laid to rest Tuesday
Natalia Chansler was in her second year as a teacher in the district.
Natalia Chansler was in her second year as a teacher in the district.(Funeral home photo)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 12:38 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 3:52 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Services have been scheduled for Natalia Chansler, 41, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Connally Junior High School, who died Saturday of complications from the virus.

Visitation is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Serenity Life Celebrations at 2925 North 18th St. in Waco.

A celebration of life begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Living Word COGIC at 1005 Dunbar St. in Waco.

Burial follows at Oakwood Cemetery.

Chansler, who was last on the campus on Aug. 25, was in her second year as a teacher in the district.

She also taught in the La Vega ISD and the Waco ISD.

News of her death came just days after Connally Junior High School seventh-grade social studies teacher David “Andy” McCormick, 49, died of COVID-19 on Aug. 24.

“With the loss of two beloved teachers, we know that concerns for physical and mental health are heightened. We want to assure you that we are focused on measures to take care of our students and staff,” Superintendent Wesley Holt said in a message to parents.

David "Andy" McCormick, 49, died on Aug. 24 of COVID-19.
David "Andy" McCormick, 49, died on Aug. 24 of COVID-19.(Funeral home photo)

McCormick was laid to rest Tuesday in Moore Cemetery in Chalk Bluff after a funeral service at Lake Shore Funeral Home in Waco.

McCormick, a Waco native, Pan American University graduate, and U.S. Air Force veteran, is survived by his wife and three children.

He was last on the campus on Aug. 18.

“We have not found any correlation” between the deaths of the two educators, Assistant Superintendent Jill Bottelberghe said Monday.

“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.”

Officials hope closing campuses will slow the spread of the virus.  (File)
Officials hope closing campuses will slow the spread of the virus. (File)(KWTX)

The Connally ISD is closing all of its campuses through next Monday as COVID-19 cases and absences rise and after the death of a second teacher in less than a week.

“This closure is an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and is in line with recommendations from the McLennan County Health Department,” Holt said in a message to parents.

“Our 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,” he said in the message.

On Sunday the district provided rapid COVID-19 testing to the junior high school staff.

“We know that testing can help curtail the spread of the virus, by identifying cases, including asymptomatic individuals who can then isolate for 10 days,” Holt said.

The district will provide drive-thru COVID-19 testing for staff, students and the district’s families from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at Connally High School.

Students younger than 18 must have the consent of a parent or guardian prior to testing.

The district is also hosting a vaccination clinic from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the Connally High School gym.

Principals will provide parents with information about how students will access remote conferencing with their assigned teachers and the requirements for attendance purposes, the district said.

Officials asked parents to monitor their children for symptoms and, if a child does test positive, to contact the child’s campus nurse.

Breakfasts and lunches will be distributed during the temporary closure from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. daily in front of each school.

Connally High School teacher David Guel spent 16 days on a ventilator fighting for his life. ...
Connally High School teacher David Guel spent 16 days on a ventilator fighting for his life. (Courtesy photo)(KWTX)

Connally High School teacher David Guel contracted COVID-19 in late March 2020 and was admitted on March 25, 2020, to Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco where he spent 26 days in the ICU, 16 of them on a ventilator.

Guel was released from the hospital on April 25, 2020.

He was back in the classroom for the start of the fall 2020 semester.

The 1997 Baylor University graduate and his wife, Lauren, who battled a less severe case of the virus at home while her husband struggled to survive in the hospital, were among the first McLennan County residents to receive the Moderna vaccine in mid-January.

He’s teaching at Connally High School this fall.

An educator was among the first McLennan County residents to die of the virus.

G.W. Carver Middle School Principal Phillip Perry died of complications from the virus on March 31, 2020.

(Katie Aupperle contributed to this story)

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