Update from Oklahoma Education Association (OEA)
Governor Stitt announced Thursday that he's spending $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding on personal protective equipment for schools.
Here's what he's buying:
- 7 million reusable masks, which the governor said is "two per teacher and student," though we aren't sure what that means for support professionals who keep our schools humming every day.
- 42,000 clear face shields.
- 2 million pairs of disposable gloves.
- 2 million disposable gowns.
Schools will be able to pick up their share of the PPE from regional warehouses beginning Aug. 14, the day after many districts go back to school.
We're glad he's spending $10 million in relief funding on actual pandemic-related expenses, instead of blowing $10 million on vouchers like last month.
Now let's use relief dollars on buying things schools can't find right now, like cleaning supplies and Clorox Wipes.
The governor spent nearly the entire press conference lecturing about the importance of schools and in-person learning. We work in schools. We get it. We agree! But all schools must be safe, whether a town has zero cases or is in the middle of a surge.
That means we'll need quicker action at the state level for cleaning supplies, thermometers, and protocols for positive cases in schools. School is only days away.
Here's part of what OEA President Alicia Priest had to say:
“We know the consequences of keeping schools closed. We’re the ones who have spent the past four and a half months working to mitigate those consequences. However, there are consequences to Governor Stitt’s delayed decisions and refusal to listen to the experts in health and in the classroom. This is a good first step, but the clock is ticking.”
The governor has taken the first step to make schools safer this fall, but there's so much more to do.
The next big step: cleaning supplies.
Many districts across the state donated cleaning supplies to hospitals this spring when COVID-19 first hit Oklahoma. Now those same supplies are difficult to find, with many companies on back order.
Please send Gov. Stitt an email and ask him to use the buying power of the state to outfit our schools with the cleaning supplies we need to be safe. He used federal relief money to buy masks and PPE in bulk. He needs to do the same thing for cleaning supplies.