Following a teacher’s aide’s coronavirus diagnosis, a parent with a student at Vaughn Occupational High School is speaking out about her concerns.
Patrice Tuohy and other parents were notified that a classroom aide tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a cruise. The woman, who is in her 50s, remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to health officials.
Health officials say she recently traveled on the Grand Princess – the cruise ship on which 21 passengers tested positive for coronavirus. At a news conference Friday night, health officials said the employee was last at the school on March 4.
“We’re not panicking. It’s just the lack of information. The lack of clarity,” said Tuohy, who’s 19-year-old daughter, Hannah, is now quarantined for 14 days.
Hannah has Down syndrome and cannot stay home alone.
“She has to take her temperature in the morning and evening. We have to record those readings and also list any symptoms she may have. That’s the protocol for the next 14 days,” said Tuohy, who works from home.
She’s concerned about other families who aren’t as fortunate.
“What about these families that need to go to work? None of these high school students can be home on their own. They cannot quarantine and be all by themselves. They have to have somebody caring for them,” Tuohy said.
In addition to her concerns about childcare, Tuohy says she’s been forced to do much of the research about the virus on her own. She says she was directed to recorded messages, and it took five phone calls before she could talk to a real person.
“That was one of the biggest mistakes [CPS] made in terms of responsiveness. It was great they did a press conference pretty soon after, but they should have had someone manning that phone,” said Touhy. “The minute the parents were notified, and it said call this number, you get 200 people calling a number and there’s nobody there. So, that was frustrating.”
Hannah, an only child, is not currently presenting symptoms, but their family is following protocol and will remain under quarantine until March 18th.
Officials say that those students and faculty that are exhibiting symptoms consistent with coronavirus are being tested, but so far no tests have been positive.
Chicago Public Schools says the health and safety of its students, staff and faculty is a top priority. In a statement telling parents, “People who have been at Vaughn since Tuesday, February 25 are being asked to stay home unless seeking medical care or given other direction. This applies to all students, staff, and service providers who were in the building since February 25. To reiterate, these individuals should not leave their homes through Wednesday, March 18, unless given other direction by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).”
CPS says it has begun a thorough cleaning of Vaughn Occupational and removed the buses that serve Vaughn students for additional cleaning, according to CDC-recommended cleaning protocols. In addition, high traffic areas in all schools will also be cleaned, and schools will begin receiving additional cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers beginning Monday.