School districts across the state are set to receive millions of dollars of personal protective equipment, thanks to $10 million of federal funding given to the state.
Wednesday was a big day in Muskogee, as school leaders received truckloads of personal protective equipment (PPE), not only giving schools more protection, but also peace of mind.
Bruce Douglas is the Superintendent for Midway Public Schools and was one of the many people who traveled to the Muskogee Civic Center to pick up masks, face shields, gloves, gowns and wipes for his district. He said his schools started in-person learning last week, and said the gift is a game-changer for smaller districts like his.
“We’re so thankful to be able to have this offered to us,” said Douglas. “Right now, I know that the budget is tight for all school districts so this is a cost saving measure that will help us.”
Muskogee County Emergency management crews spent all day handing out personal protective equipment to 69 school districts across 8 counties. More equipment is being given out at three additional distribution sites in Tulsa, Pryor and Stillwater.
Allison Whitsitt, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Northeast region, said this is a big mission, but everything is going smoothly so far, thanks to local emergency managers.
“I appreciate the hard work of emergency managers across the state. This was kind of sprung pretty quickly and we had to fall into action, so we are grateful to everybody who volunteered their time and their people and their energy, this takes a lot of work and they’ve done an amazing job,” Whitsitt said.
Eric Wells with Muskogee Public Schools picked up 6000 of each PPE item today, enough for each student and staff member to have two masks or more as well as gowns for lunch-line workers. Wells said he never thought he would get this many items at once, because it’s been hard for schools to order PPE items.
“It’s been very difficult to find PPE beyond price gouging hospital holds getting cleaning supplies and what not it’s difficult for schools who don’t need it right now, we need it a two or three weeks from now, so it’s difficult to get that sourced in time because they want it delivered at this moment or you don’t get it,” Wells explained.
Wells said the district will continue ordering PPE in case the pandemic stretches further in the year, but said the extra supplies are a huge sigh of relief.
“To see all the PPE also available to other schools around us, it really made us feel good about the state and the county and the individuals that helped make this possible. We feel good about starting the school year,” Wells said.
The Muskogee County Emergency Management Office will be at the Muskogee Civic Center again Thursday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to hand out more PPE.