- Teachers across the US are preparing for the school year by promoting fundraising or wishlists to get personal protection equipment for their classrooms.
- Educators are using social media and other digital platforms like Donors Choose, Amazon Wishlist, and GoFundMe to raise money to buy gloves, masks, and plexiglass for their students.
- Insider spoke to educators across the US about how they juggle seeking PPE for their classrooms in an effort to ensure safety for themselves and their students.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Teachers are gearing up for the upcoming school year by taking precautions by attending in-classroom social distance training and remaking entire lesson plans to adjust to teaching during a global pandemic. And amid US equipment shortages and rising coronavirus health risks, they’re also using donation platforms to ask for help obtaining personal protection equipment (PPE).
Jennifer Meadows, a Georgia elementary school teacher, plans to return to school this fall under a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction. In order to keep her classroom safe, Meadows, an elementary school teacher, said she’s turned to sites like Amazon Wishlist and DonorsChoose for PPE donations. But she told Insider it has been difficult to request items or even use donations to buy them.
“You can’t even hardly find Lysol wipes or Lysol spray that will remain in stock long enough for someone to try to purchase that or for me to even try to purchase it on my own or out of my own pocket,” Meadows said.
She said buying disinfecting supplies before the pandemic was a burden, but now with everyone running to the store to gather these cleaning products, most items are out of stock or marked up in price. Meadows said with funding her own classroom, she is also stuck making the difficult decision between buying supplies like pencils and notebooks for her students or PPE.
“Do I sacrifice some of that to try to get some extra money for Lysol to make sure everything is clean?” she said.
As teachers return to the classroom, the CDC has advised them to enforce face coverings, good handwashing hygiene, and other safety measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
New Jersey first grade teacher, Ally Glickman, is raising money on Amazon Wishlist to get protection materials for herself and students as they return to the classroom in person.
Glickman told Insider her school has provided Plexi-glass for tables that will hold eight students, but it raises social distancing concerns.
“Especially with COVID and the protocols in place,” she told Insider, “having flexible seating will allow me to spread the students out in the classroom and provide more of an opportunity for social distancing.”
With support from friends, family, and the #clearthelist movement, she was able to get flexible seating – like yoga mats and carpet squares- for her classroom, which she said would provide a safer social and emotional learning environment for her students.
“With the classroom not looking like traditional education setting this year, I want my students to feel as comfortable and have as much fun as they can,” Glickman told Insider in an email.
Kerri Barone, a Florida kindergarten teacher, created an Amazon Wishlist asking for gloves, masks, Lysol, and other protective materials for her classroom. Barone has also asked donors for translucent plexiglass to help distance her students. Until she receives the plexiglass, she said she plans to get creative such as setting up tri-fold paper boards – typically used for science fair projects – to keep her students safely apart.
“When you ask for help and you get it, it’s amazing how the community will support you,” she said.
But some teachers say they can’t ask for help.
Jess Piper, an 11th-grade teacher in Missouri, will be returning to school later this month with major concerns about coronavirus but isn’t fundraising for her classroom because of the lack of materials in her community.
“I feel guilty about asking people to buy things for me,” Piper told Insider, adding that due to a lack of supplies in local stores, she doesn’t “even know where people could find anything for me if I requested it.”
“dO TEacHeRs thINk ThEy ArE beTTeR tHAn nUrseS?”
No, but nurses have PPE, limited patient contact, and infectious disease training. I have a couple English degrees, 120 kids, a mask, and a box of Clorox wipes. Please don’t compare us.
— Jess Piper (@EnglishTeach07) August 15, 2020
Piper said she’s witnessed arguments that teachers should return back to work and not have extra time off, often comparing them to nurses who have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic. But she says the comparison is a nonstarter.
“It’s not nurses against teachers or teachers against nurses,” Piper said, noting that her mother is a registered nurse who works in a COVID-19 unit and treats three to four patients a day with an N95 face mask.
“I’m going to have personal contact with 120 students that go out and have contact with 500 students in the hallway,” she said. “I only have one cloth mask that looks like it’s made from a kid’s tighty-whitie. It’s ridiculous.”
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