Nearly one year ago, personal protective equipment (PPE) was rarely seen outside of clinics, hospitals, and congregate care settings.
But as the pandemic continued to rage across Washington state, the role of PPE became clear in slowing the spread of the virus. Many districts already facing increased costs were unable to fund the PPE they desperately needed to protect staff and students.
In March 2020, ESD 112 stepped forward on behalf of the AESD to oversee the statewide cooperative purchasing process. Through this process, schools and districts were able to access PPE at a fraction of the cost.
A second round of purchasing began this December as many districts moved to hybrid or in-person models. With support from the AESD, each ESD is leading the billing, processing, and distribution for their region.
ESD 113 is gathering PPE for 45 districts and private schools across our region. Facilities Manager Ed Otos and his team are leading the effort at ESD 113 to receive and prepare supplies for distribution.
In the Capital Region, schools have ordered almost 1,000,000 units of supplies, including:
493,000 youth 3-ply disposable face masks
187,500 adult 3-ply disposable face masks
99,000 KN95 masks
32,000 alcohol wipe packets
With prices as low as 3 cents per unit for face masks, many schools have seen their PPE costs reduced by 90 percent.
“This is a great opportunity for our local districts to gain PPE at such a reasonable price,” Otos said.
Many schools and districts will be able to pick up their PPE beginning in the second week of January.
Once PPE arrives at the ESD, Otos and his team count and sort the items ordered by each district. Capital Event Center staff will continue to audit orders and schedule pick-up with districts.
Pandemic-related shipping delays have slowed the second round, but thousands of boxes of PPE will have arrived at schools by the end of the month.
The process will restart next month, Otos shared, when the final items arrive. As the spring progresses, the ESDs will work with local districts to determine whether a third round of purchasing is needed.