Park Hill purchasing protective gear
ased upon feedback, the primary concern in the Park Hill community is the health and safety of its students and teachers. Given this matter of importance and responsibility, Park Hill district officials made an emergency purchase Thursday, Aug. 13 of enough protective gear to be able to provide every student and teacher with two face masks for a safer reopening.
“To support the return of staff and students to school, the district’s Reopening Task Force identified the need to have reusable cloth face masks available for distribution. The Task Force determined that a surplus of reusable cloth face masks was needed so each student and staff member could receive two masks when schools reopened,” district officials say.
The face masks are stitched by Sandlot Goods in Kansas City and come in different sizes to fit elementary, middle and high school students.
“The preferable type of mask will be made of cotton fabric, elastic ear loops, and sized to fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,” district officials say. The washable face masks cost the district $60,000.
Dr. Jeanette Cowherd, superintendent of Park Hill School District, pointed out that earlier Thursday Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas extended the State of Emergency in Kansas City through Jan. 16, 2021.
The mayor’s order on “masks, social distancing, capacities and those types of things impacts us directly,” said Cowherd.
“Until there’s a widely available vaccine, COVID-19 is here to stay-with serious potential health consequences for those infected,” said Lucas. “Mask-wearing, social distancing and basic hygiene continue to be the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and we appreciate all who take their personal responsibility to protect their family, friends and neighbors seriously.”
While minors are exempt from the order’s face masks requirement, health officials recommend that all individuals over the age of two wear face masks.
“It is now obvious to everyone that COVID-19 is not going away over the next five months,” said Kansas City Health Department Director Rex Archer, M.D. “As we move out of summer and into fall and winter, we will still be confronting this health emergency. Our cases continue to rise, with a 115 percent increase in the 20-29 age group between June and July. We need every person, every business, every organization to commit to stopping transmission so our kids can get back to school and our businesses can thrive.”
District officials also recognized the need to install Plexiglas shields in classrooms and offices to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Generally, the district would go through a competitive bid process to purchase goods for the classroom. But a remarkably high demand for the solid transparent plastic has impacted supply chains. And with the first day of school rapidly approaching, time is of the essence. According to the Sandbox Sign Company, the production time for a large variety of shields is six to eight weeks.
To expedite the process and increase the likelihood the barriers will be delivered before school starts, the district made an emergency purchase, citing a policy which allows the superintendent to waive the requirement for competitive bids when there is a threat to public safety.
District officials are “optimistic” that the three-sided Plexiglas shields will arrive ahead of the first day of school, Sept. 8. The Plexiglas shields cost about $25 each, totaling $175,210.
The Plexiglas shields will be set up at teachers’ desks and multipurpose tables where students are face-to-face.
“The plexiglass shields are not for individual students, individual desks or in rooms with individual student desks,” district officials say. “Also, for a table of four students, two shields (not four) will be set up diagonally in order to create a single barrier between students at the table.”
The shields are portable and require no assembly, according to the company. Instead, they are stabilized on desks and tables with a PVC clip base system.