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State delivers $10 million in PPE to schools

Oklahoma schools will have stockpiles of personal protective equipment within their reach this week.

Public, charter and private schools in the state should receive their share of $10 million worth of PPE by Thursday, if they haven’t gotten their supplies already, said Mark Gower, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Gower led a tour of a PPE storage warehouse in Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center on Tuesday with Gov. Kevin Stitt and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. State officials watched as a forklift operator loaded supplies into a truck headed for Edmond Public Schools.

Edmond schools will reopen Thursday with a split A/B class schedule and a mask requirement for all students in first through 12th grade. Edmond Superintendent Bret Towne said the state-provided PPE will add to the equipment the district already bought.

“We’re OK right now, but this is going to extend what we would have been purchasing in 45 or 60 days,” Towne said after the tour. “So we feel really good about making it through this whole semester with the supplies we have of masks, shields, gowns and gloves.”

School districts still need help finding disinfectants to maintain frequent sanitation of classrooms and buses, Towne said.

The governor announced July 30 he would put $10 million in federal aid toward school PPE with the hope that students could return to class in person. The state is distributing 1.7 million reusable masks, 42,000 face shields, 1.2 million gloves and 1.2 million gowns to 11 regional sites.

Districts and county emergency management offices drove to their regional warehouses to pick up school allocations of PPE, which are distributed based on student population. Each school will receive two reusable masks per student and two per employee, Gower said.

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