A $10 million state order of personal protective equipment (PPE) for teachers and students will not make it to school districts in central Oklahoma as planned by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“It is our goal and intent to get all the PPE out to the schools by August 14th,” Stitt said in a July 30 news conference.
The order includes millions of gloves, masks, gowns and face shields.
According to a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the equipment is being shipped to the state from the vendor, as of Tuesday evening.
Once received, the state will disperse the items to local governments to distribute to school districts.
David Barnes, the director of Oklahoma County Emergency Management Department, said they are in the planning stages of handing out the equipment. The agency has yet to receive notice that the state has dropped off the PPE.
As a result, Barnes said districts will likely be able to get the PPE from the state next week.
“It won’t be this Friday, I can guarantee you that,” Barnes said.
Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County EOM departments will distribute the PPE to the state’s central region, which includes Cleveland, McClain, Pottawatomie, Lincoln, Logan, and Canadian Counties.
“We’re talking thousands and thousands of pieces. Because we’re looking at, just in the central region, I believe there’s 74 school districts and charter schools,” Barnes said.
According to Barnes, it’s possible the department will set-up a drive-thru for district staff to pick up their allotted PPE.
Moore Public Schools will open schools for the first day of classes on Thursday. Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines said they have enough PPE to get the year started, and the state’s order of equipment will help later in the year.
“We’ve got masks, we’ve got face shields, we’ve got face coverings,” Romines said. “We’re well prepared.”
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma State Department of Education will message district superintendents with more information on how to pick up the equipment, according to a department spokesperson.
During the July news conference, Stitt also announced the Oklahoma State Department of Health will construct a plan to allow teachers to get tested for COVID-19 weekly. More information on that program, he said, will be released by August 21.