SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A big move by South Carolina’s education department is being applauded by both local and state education leaders. The state’s superintendent announced Tuesday they’re going to be purchasing and distributing over $33 million worth of personal protective equipment to all public school districts.
Edith Alston has been an Upstate teacher for decades but this year has brought obstacles she has never encountered before.
“We are on the frontlines. We’re with kids who come from everywhere and you don’t know who has touched who, so being very mindful of that is hard,” said Greenville County Schools teacher Edith Alston.
However she told 7 News, the latest move from the South Carolina Department of Education could be bringing some much-needed help and supplies.
According to a press release from the department, the South Carolina General Assembly recently provided the SCDE additional flexibility to use previously allocated Coronavirus Relief Funds to cover the costs of school safety measures taken in response to COVID-19. That includes face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.
The reason behind it all? State leaders said the supplies will support efforts to maintain and return to face-to-face instruction.
Patrick Kelly with the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association told us this is a step in the right direction.
“We think it’s an important precedent for our state to ensure that we continue to support the kind of public education system that our students deserve,” said Patrick Kelly with the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association.
A lot of parents are on board too.
“All the stuff that’s going on, teachers getting sick, it makes me feel a lot better,” said Spartanburg father Jeff Kiomany.
However, Rosa Johnson said this doesn’t change anything for her.
“It’s hard to remember masks, even for adults,” said Spartanburg mother Rosa Johnson.
In fact she told us, her kids are staying at home on the virtual plan until COVID-19 cases start getting lower.
Districts across Spartanburg and beyond told us the item they need most is plexiglass, many said it can be costly and difficult to assemble.
You can read the full statement from South Carolina’s Department of Education below:
“State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced today at River Springs Elementary School that the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) will purchase and distribute over $33 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to all eighty one public school districts to support efforts to maintain and return to face to face instruction.
“With the 2020-21 school year well underway, it is critical that teachers and schools have the supplies needed to ensure face to face instruction can continue to be carried out as safely as possible,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “This statewide order will not only ensure that face to face operations can be maintained for the foreseeable future but will also provide the necessary resources to phase in additional face to face learning as health and safety conditions allow.
“The South Carolina General Assembly recently provided the SCDE additional flexibility to use previously allocated Coronavirus Relief Funds to cover the costs of school safety measures taken in response to COVID-19 including, but not limited to, purchasing masks, gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer, face shields, cleaning solution, plexiglass, and other cleaning equipment and supplies. The SCDE collected requests from all eighty one public school districts and is pleased to be able to fund every request made.”
The SCDE has purchased and will distribute the following PPE and supplies to school districts:
– 597,585 – Adult and student reusable cloth face masks
– 2,681,950 – Adult and student disposable face masks
– 189,966 – KN95 masks
– 87,010 – Adult and student face shields
– 108,476 – Boxes of Gloves (100 count each)
– 331,913 – Gowns for nurses
– 606,473 – Cases of disinfecting wipes (50 count each)
– 41,474 – Gallons of hand sanitizer
– 99,259 – Bottles (16 oz) of hand sanitizer
– 69,243 – Bottles (32 oz) of disinfecting solution
– 1,746 – Electrostatic backpack sprayers
“The SCDE has also facilitated and funded district orders for plexiglass, which when used according to DHEC guidelines, allows classrooms to accommodate additional students while maintaining safety standards. Over 300,000 pieces of plexiglass have been ordered with many already delivered and being used in classrooms across the state. Other PPE and supplies began to arrive at school district designated delivery locations last week.
Superintendent Spearman will visit Roebuck Elementary School tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14 at 10:00 a.m. to speak about the PPE and plexiglass purchases made there.”