IRMO, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is providing more than $33 million in funding for personal protective equipment (PPE) for schools in the Palmetto State.
Education officials announced on Tuesday they would be providing more than $33 million of the protective equipment to all 81 public school districts across the state.
Officials say they were able to make the purchases after the South Carolina General Assembly allowed them to use previously allocated Ccronavirus relief funds.
The protective equipment includes disinfecting wipes, masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass and many other items. Some of the equipment arrived last week.
Here's a breakdown of all the equipment the department purchased:
- 597,585 Adult and student reusable cloth face masks
- 2,681,950 Adult and student disposable face masks
- 189,966 KN95 masks
- 87,010 Adult and student face shields
- 108,476 Boxes of Gloves (100 count each)
- 331,913 Gowns for nurses
- 606,473 Cases of disinfecting wipes (50 count each)
- 41,474 Gallons of hand sanitizer
- 99,259 Bottles (16 oz) of hand sanitizer
- 69,243 Bottles (32 oz) of disinfecting solution
- 1,746 Electrostatic backpack sprayers
State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman hopes this will help get schools back to face-to-face instruction.
"We now know that we can bring more children back with extra measures and plexiglass is part of that so that we can put more students in a room," Spearman said. "You may hear some of them saying we need more things and we're telling them let us know what you need, and we have the funding to get it for you."
The state has also ordered more than 300,000 sheets of plexiglass to be used in classrooms to help bring more students back while following safety standards.
"It will help in the safety of our students returning and for our staff too," Spearman explained. "You see when you walk in the school, they have the plexiglass up, even for their front office staff. Protecting staff, protecting students, it is worth whatever penny we spend on that."
Dr. Christina Melton, Superintendent of Lexington-Richland School District Five, is thankful for the new PPE heading their way.
"Because of the funds from our state government, we're able to make sure that the facilities are safe, that our students are in a safe environment for learning and our staff is in safe environment for working," Dr. Melton said.