The Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA), in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Education, received two million face masks this week for Ohio school children, teachers, and administrators.
These donated masks were made available to the State of Ohio from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and will be available to Ohio school districts through regional Educational Service Centers (ESCs).
“This donation helps provide masks for students, teachers, and other school staff, as they plan for the coming school year,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “Mask wearing is one of the ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19, along with frequent hand washing and maintaining social distancing.”
These KN-95 or KN-90 masks are not medical grade, according to FEMA and Ohio EMA. There are about 12,000 masks per each shipping pallet. In total, the masks fill eight semi-tractor trailers.
“With the opening of schools around the corner, we’re delighted these masks will be put to good use by Ohio schools,” said Ohio EMA Executive Director Sima Merick.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced during his coronavirus press briefing Tuesday that he is issuing an order requiring K-12 students to wear masks or facial coverings in school. DeWine cited the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which jointly issued a letter Tuesday recommending masks for all kids returning to school.
Exceptions for the governor’s mandate include students under the age of 2-years-old, any child unable to remove a mask without assistance, a child with a significant behavioral/psychological issue undergoing treatment that is exacerbated by the use of a mask, a child with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay, or a child with a facial deformity that causes airway obstruction.
“The donated masks are another way the Department and so many education partners are working to ensure the health and safety of students, educators, and staff when school buildings reopen,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria.
The masks were received by Ohio EMA, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, on Monday and are being distributed to certain ESCs this week. School districts should contact their regional ESC on how to take possession of the masks.