Students dancing with teacher

300K free masks coming to area schools to help with coronavirus

The local public safety effort comes from a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) donation of two million masks to the Ohio Department of Education.

The 300,000 masks will be distributed starting today to schools in southwest Ohio by the Butler County Educational Services Center (BCESC) officials working with the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

The local BCESC was picked as one of nine distribution hubs in Ohio and will help coordinate the delivery of masks to schools in the region, said Katherin Clayton, director of public school safety for the center located in Hamilton.

“Butler County ESC accepted over 300,000 masks to be distributed to six educational service centers over nine counties in southwest Ohio. The number of masks were determined by the number of students and staff in those nine counties,” she said.

Clayton helped oversee the delivery and unloading of boxes of masks last week.

Area school officials said they are grateful for the free masks, especially in the wake of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent orders requiring all K-12 schools in the state must have students, teachers and staffers wear masks when schools open.

In June, Butler County’s largest school system, Lakota, was the first to announce all students returning to in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year would have to wear masks when unable to do social distancing.

“This donation will certainly help with this effort,” said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota. “We have always planned to have extra masks on hand at each of our buildings, as well as on our buses, should one be forgotten or break during the day,” said Fuller.

Clayton said that “we hope to distribute all the masks by the end of the week. The school districts will decide when and how often to distribute the masks in their own schools.”