Students dancing with teacher

FEMA provides thousands of free masks to Tri-State schools

As school starts up on Monday for the Lakota Local School District, school leaders tell Local 12 having extra masks couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

“Having more masks that we can supplement the ones that we already have on hand, I think we’re going to need that,” Matt Miller, Superintendent of Lakota Local Schools said.

“That’s going to be helpful for our kids, and staff in schools and on our busses.”

Miller says about 75% of students will be coming back for in-person learning.

“We have been preparing all summer long, looking at ordering masks, we did order some masks already, so this will help supplement what we have ordered, so it’s a big help from us from a financial aspect,” Chris Passarge, Chief Operations Officer, Lakota Local Schools said.

On Wednesday, they received nearly 20,000 free masks.

“Through the state of Ohio, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Emergency Management and the Ohio Department of Education, they have allotted to the Educational Services Center a portion of the masks,” Katharine Clayton, Director of Public Schools Safety, Butler County Educational Service Center said.

The Butler County Educational Service Center is 1 of 9 in the state to receive the allotment.

“We were given a little over 300,000 that were then distributed this week to the ESC’s. Those county ESC’s then distributed to their districts in their counties,” Clayton said.

The school districts that received the masks are: Fairfield, Hamilton, Lakota, Madison, Middletown, Monroe, New Miami, Ross and Talawanda.

These masks will help provide a safe and secure environment for districts to open safely, as well as help ease the transition for in-person learning.

“Really looking across the state of Ohio, last month and this month around the ages of 20 to 29 or some of our larger cases. That’s not school-aged, but those are teachers, those are parents, those are friends, those are staff members, so it’s very important that we help provide enough masks and enough personal protective equipment to help schools feel like they can reopen safely,” Clayton said.

As the masks make their way around the state, school leaders are grateful as it will help offset some of the costs associated with keeping your kids safe during a nationwide pandemic.

“It certainly helps our districts and helps districts all across the state of Ohio that we are able to use these masks from FEMA, from Governor DeWine’s office, and certainly is appreciated and is going to benefit our district and all districts across Ohio,” Miller said.

Each school district will decide when and how often to distribute the masks.