Parents React to Chicago School Employee's Coronavirus Diagnosis

The classroom aide — a Chicago resident in her 50's — remains hospitalized in stable condition

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Multiple parents of students at Chicago's Vaughn Occupational High School expressed concern Friday after school district officials announced a classroom assistant contracted the coronavirus, the sixth case in Illinois.

The classroom aide — a Chicago resident in her 50's —  remains hospitalized in stable condition, state and city officials said at a news conference Friday evening. She recently traveled on the Grand Princess, the cruise ship in which 21 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The sixth case of coronavirus in Illinois is a special education classroom assistant at Vaughn Occupation High School on Chicago’s North Side, Chicago Public Schools Chief Janice Jackson said.

After returning home on Feb. 24, the woman went to her job at Vaughn Occupational High School, a specialty school for students with special needs and disabilities.The unidentified employee was last present at work on March 2.

Classes at the school have been canceled through Friday, March 13, while health officials assess the situation and conduct interviews, Chicago Public Schools officials said. Staff members will also be placed on paid leave.

In a letter to parents, Principal Noel McNally acknowledged the "difficult situation" and will provide updates as he's able to.

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the media with the administration's Coronavirus Task Force to provide updates on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California.

Catherine Henchek, the parent of a Vaughn student, called the news "worrying, because everyone is in contact with each other."

The news remains especially concerning, because many students who attend Vaughn are medically-fragile.

Another parent, Bozna Purcha, called the news worrisome because parents don't know what to expect.

President Trump has signed an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

"It's unpredictable," she said. "We don't know if we should panic or be realistic."

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