Teachers Are Asking for Personal Protective Equipment Donations, and They Shouldn't Have to

As the 2020-2021 school year gets underway, educators from all over the country are setting up fundraisers in order to afford masks and other PPE.

children wearing face masks in classroom while teacher sprays sanitizer on student's hand
Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

In the absence of national back-to-school game plan from the Department of Education, individual communities and school districts are deciding what heading back to class will look like for students and teachers. But lacking federal and local funding mean teachers throughout the country are having to turn to online fundraising to afford personal protective equipment (PPE) for their students and classrooms.

Teachers in New York City are asking for masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers on sites like Donors Choose, where teachers normally request cash for books and educational projects, according to The New York Post.

What Teachers Are Saying

According to the Post, many New York City-area teachers like "Mr. Kozak," a teacher at Manhattan Hunter Science HS, need funds to acquire supplies including masks, face shields, disposable gloves, touchless thermometers, social-distancing floor markers, and contact-less door openers that their students won't be able to afford.

Parents.com identified a wide variety of teacher pages in other states, like Ms. Fensore who teaches at James Hillhouse High School in New Haven Connecticut and wrote, "The items in this project include disposable masks, in case a student has forgotten his or hers or simply doesn't have one due to extreme poverty. I've included cleaning supplies to ensure I maintain a safe, disinfected learning environment for my students and myself. So many have struggled learning from home, and I want to minimize the risks they face when they step into my classroom. To further aid in this, I have added hand sanitizer, as I do not have sink access in my classroom. Health and safety is my priority!"

And Mrs. Duncan, who teaches grades 3-5 at North Elementary School in Cedar City, Utah, shared that more than half of her students are from low‑income households, and she needs funds for supplies like touchless thermometers and masks.

The popular, general online fundraising site GoFundMe is also brimming with fundraisers for teachers in states like Georgia, New Jersey, Maine, and Tennessee.

How You Can Help

Search for and give to teachers' fundraisers on Donor Choose. The site's search tool allows you identify fundraisers by city, state, zip, a teacher or school's name, as well as categories like Food, Clothing & Hygiene.

Search for teachers' pages on GoFundMe. A search for teachers PPE currently turns up over 257 results, while there are nearly 1K for school PPE.

Support Adopt a Classroom. You can opt to search for specific teachers or schools to support or donate to a "Spotlight Fund" (including Arts, Disaster Relief, Inclusive Classroom, Racial Equity in Schools, or STEM) through Adopt a Classroom. They also currently have a COVID-19 Relief Fund for Teachers and Students, which is raising funds for items like internet hot spots and Chromebooks for students, safety supplies including masks and hand sanitizer, postage for no-contact mailing from teachers to students, and rapid response supplies deemed necessary by teachers.

Support the CleartheList Foundation. Founded last year by a teacher named Courtney Jones, CleartheList allows school faculty and staff to create wish lists of supplies that other teachers, community members, or family and friends can purchase. Visit ClearTheList.Tree3.com to view all teacher and school lists available for clearing.

Contact your reps. In an April press release, the National Education Association (NEA) stated, "Education support professionals and educators who remain in direct contact with students and the community during this pandemic urgently need personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep everyone safe."

The NEA urges people to call or email their representatives and ask that the next relief bill covers $56 million in funding for educators' PPE. Use this tool to find and contact your reps.

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