CHICAGO (CBS) — While more classes have been canceled at a Chicago school exposed to the coronavirus, the teachers union is questioning if district cost cutting could play a role in the spread of the virus.
As the district gathers facts and talks with a special education assistant from Vaughn Occupational High School who remains hospitalized with the virus, they’re getting a better idea of who could be exposed to the virus. Chicago Public Schools officials say they are focused on informing families.
“We have begun a thorough cleaning of Vaughn and removed the buses that serve Vaughn students for additional cleaning,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson.
Crews were spotted at the school Saturday for cleaning.
The more than 200 people who were at the building since the aide returned were told to “stay home and only leave to seek medical care.”
The patient docked from a cruise ship in California on February 21 and returned to work at Vaughn on Monday, February 24. During that week she felt ill. Officials initially said her last day there was March 2, but now they say she was last there on March 4. The updated timeline means the school will be out through at least March 18.
“All schools will also begin to receive additional cleaning wipes, hand sanitizers on Monday,” said Jackson.
“It’s been too little to late for a number of years,” said Stacy Davis Gates, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Gates is concerned the lack of upkeep in schools could help spread the virus. She said a lower cost private company is responsible for the daily cleaning in buildings like Vaughn, and she questions if the sanitation is happening daily.
“They’ve removed custodial staff from our schools that were in charge of this,” she said. “When you have a stress like this on the system, it exposes those gaps for everyone.”
CPS sent out a letter saying Vaughn students or staff who have symptoms will be tested. They add eventually that will include anyone in contact with the known case.