First Lady, others start mask drive to fill school void

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – First Lady Britainy Beshear on Tuesday announced a new program, Coverings for Kids, which helps Kentuckians to donate facial coverings directly to local school districts.

She said facial coverings are proven to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and are critical to reopening schools safely and keeping children, educators and families safe. Dropoff sites are being set up across the state.

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“As a mom, nothing is more important to me than protecting each one of Kentuckys children, as well as the teachers and staff who work hard every day to help them learn and grow,” said First Lady Beshear. “Kentuckians generosity is unmatched, and during this pandemic this program will help ensure each school has enough masks to protect their students and staff.”

The First Lady and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman unveiled the campaign to school district leaders Tuesday afternoon during a webcast with superintendents hosted by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

The First Lady said each district will choose how donated coverings are distributed. Most districts plan to give coverings to children who may need extra coverings, knowing that students may lose or break their masks or get them dirty throughout the school day. Donations also will be provided to teachers.

“I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Coleman, the Kentucky Department of Education and each school district for their support of this program,” said First Lady Beshear. “This program allows all of us to show our schools how much we appreciate and support them.”

“One of my top priorities throughout this pandemic has been to safely reopen our schools,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I am incredibly proud of how Kentuckians are stepping up to protect each other and slow the spread of COVID-19 and I am proud of Britainy for stepping up to ensure all of our children have access to face coverings we know are vital to saving lives and reopening our schools.”

School districts will set up donation centers and appoint local coordinators. The Office of the First Lady and Office of the Lieutenant Governor, through KDE, will provide each school district with a donation tracking form for intake and an outreach packet, including language, graphics, drafted social media posts and emails for promotion.

School districts that have chosen to start the year with non-traditional instruction (NTI) or that move to NTI at any point during the year still can participate in the Coverings for Kids program.

Depending on their needs, NTI districts could store donated masks until schools reopen or distribute masks to students during NTI for them to use in other settings where masks are required.

Lt. Gov. Coleman emphasized the importance of allowing each school district to use donated facial coverings in whatever manner would provide the greatest positive impact for children and families in their communities.

“I’m an educator who trusts educators. We want to provide each district with resources and guidance while still giving them the flexibility to make sure these coverings are going where theyre most needed at any given time,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman.

Both child- and adult-size facial coverings are accepted. The coverings can be bought or homemade. There are links to tutorials and patterns that include both child and adult sizes on the Coverings for Kids web page.

Starting on Tuesday, Aug. 11, individuals can drop off facial coverings at district-level donation centers. Those locations will be announced soon. For more information and updates on the program, visit FirstLady.ky.gov/CoveringsForKids.