School Districts Preparing Thousands Of PPE Kits For New Year
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As Utah students begin to head back to the classroom for the new school year, some teachers are concerned about personal protection from COVID-19.
Officials with the Utah Education Association believe there should be a state standard for personal protection equipment for teachers. KSL talked with two of the largest school districts in the state, which believe they have good plans and equipment in place to protect teachers.
Earlier this week, Gov. Gary Herbert said every teacher would receive a PPE kit with five KN95 masks and two face shields to wear in the classroom.
Two districts told KSL there’s already been some confusion about that, but those PPE kits from the state are in addition to what the districts already have planned.
The Granite School District warehouse was busy Thursday as workers prepared pallets of PPE and cleaning supplies for all of their 90+ schools.
“In terms of supplies and what the state is providing, in addition to what we’ve already prepared for, we feel pretty good,” said Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesman.
Both Granite and Canyons school districts will provide each teacher with two cloth masks in addition to state-issued PPE kits. Granite will also provide a KN95 mask for high-risk teachers for each day of the year. Face shields are also available for teachers in both districts, which believe they will be ready when students arrive.
“Canyons School District has a commitment to clean,” said Jeff Haney, spokesman for the Canyons School District. “We’ve invested nearly $1 million in cleaning and PPE to make our schools and buildings as safe as possible.”
All schools in that district should have already received a long list of items for protecting people and keeping the buildings disinfected. According to the district, those items include:
- Two cloth masks for every employee in the district
- One clear face shield for every teacher
- Plexiglass for public-facing offices, reception desks and other key locations
- Two 8 oz. bottles of hand-sanitizer per elementary classroom, which will be refilled nightly by sweepers, and additional bottles throughout school and office buildings. Middle and high schools will receive a one-gallon jug of hand-sanitizer per classroom and additional bottles throughout the school. By October, it also hopes to have pump hand-sanitizers hanging inside each classroom districtwide.
- Each classroom will be provided a spray bottle of peroxide-based sanitizer and cleaning towels that are safe to use during the school day to wipe down desks and other high-touch points.
- Disinfecting wipes will be provided to every classroom and office for use throughout the day. The active ingredient is approved by the EPA and CDC for use with COVID-19.
Additional protective materials available upon request include non-latex gloves and face shields for faculty and staff.
The Granite School District also believes every school, classroom and teacher will have what they need to keep students and teachers safe throughout the entire school year.
In addition to the supplies that the districts have already purchased, the PPE kits from the state with five KN95 masks and two face shields for every teacher should arrive early next week.
“Every bit of additional PPE for our teachers and our education support professionals is very much welcomed,” said Haney.
Both districts recognize that teachers face an incredible challenge this year, as do many other workers. Horsley said teachers and other school district employees in classrooms should be considered frontline workers because of the jobs they do.
The president of the Utah Education Association said nobody wants to be in the classroom face-to-face with students more than the teachers, but she has heard from teachers who are concerned about inconsistent PPE and cleaning supplies from one school district to another.
“We just need to be sure that it is done safely and that it is consistent across our state,” said Heidi Mathews, president of the Utah Education Association.
She said the UEA wants to see a safety standard for every district across the state that covers teacher safety in the classroom and plans for teachers if they are unable to work due to a quarantine.
“Let’s have some clear standards for re-opening our schools so that we can give our educators that peace of mind that we know that we are basing these decisions on the science and the safety and not just on the politics.”
Horsley acknowledged that as problems arise, these plans will change and ideally improved after the school year starts.
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