How much PPE do Utah's school districts have?

Ben Horsley gives a tour of the Granite School District's warehouse stacked with PPE supplies for teachers and students. (Photo: KUTV)

As schools ready to reopen, do they have enough personal protective equipment?

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2News checked in with local school districts after a Utah State Board of Education meeting, where some teachers expressed concern over cleaning and PPE supplies.

Margaret O’Neill, a middle school teacher in South Salt Lake, spoke out during the meeting.

“We shouldn’t be reopening. We’re not ready. I miss my students, but we’re not ready," O'Neill said.

She said she had concerns about spacing, ventilation, and cleaning supplies.

“In the state board of education meeting this morning, superintendent Sydnee Dickson talked about how the wipes order is delayed, and not going to be here for a little while," O'Neill explained.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced today that a pack including five KN95 masks and two face shields would be provided to every teacher, faculty member, and school bus driver in the state. But districts are having to gather a lot of supplies themselves.

Ben Horsley with Granite School District walked us through their warehouse. Pushing aside pallets of papers and pencils, for PPE and cleaning supplies.

“So we are pre-stocking, and pre-shipping before the school year. That’s why these materials are upfront here, so we can easily pull what they need based on their student populations, how many classrooms they have, how many teachers," Horsley said.

He says they have enough masks for every teacher, bus driver, and student.

“And more, and more. We have enough for two masks for every student for the entire year.”

That’s in addition to disposable masks that schools will have on hand and on buses in case a student forgets theirs at home.

The Jordan School District says they are stocked up on PPE, and Davis says they have nearly enough reusable masks to give each student three. The Canyons district says each employee will receive two cloth face coverings, and each student will receive one.

But how much comes from the state, and how much is up to the district?

“A large portion of the masks have come from the state, but not all of them," said Horsley, the spokesman for Granite schools. "That’s something that we’re working on as well — and in order to be able to provide as many as we want to have on stock, again, like the N95 and some of these other specialty types — that’s all been produced here locally.”

So what about the cost?

“We’re already in the millions-of-dollar range in terms of providing this material going into the fall," Horsley said.

Some of that comes from CARES Act funding and donations from Salt Lake County, but still, he says some projects in the budget will have to be put on hold.

Horsley says the planning to get these materials in time for the fall started in March. It won’t stop now.

“This is something that we’re anticipating not just within our plans, but within our preparations for the next three to six years. And so we want to make sure that we continue to provide and produce supplies and have them on hand to be able to handle those kind of timelines.”

Jeff Haney, with the Canyons School District, broke down their plans for PPE, cleaning, and school ventilation with the list below, copied as it was sent to 2News by Haney:

Hand Sanitizer

  • 1,000 one-gallon bottles with pumps will be delivered to each secondary classroom (approx. 850 rooms).
  • Another 1,000 bottles have been procured as replacements.
  • Elementary school classrooms (approx. 800 rooms) will receive two-three 8 oz bottles (3,900 have been filled). Which will be refilled nightly by the sweepers.
  • 400 dispensers are located throughout schools in high traffic areas.
  • Wall dispensers in every classroom are expected by early October. 10,000 refillable bags have been procured.

Face Coverings/Shields/Plexiglas

  • Each employee will receive two cloth face coverings.
  • Students will receive a cloth face covering (both adult and youth have been ordered). Many schools are providing a covering.
  • Paper masks will be delivered to schools for students who forget masks.
  • A package of masks will be placed in each bus.
  • 4,000 face shields in stock. One shield will be given to each certified employee and bus driver. Available to other employees as needed. Will look to make additional order(s) as needed.
  • 800 sheets of plexiglass have been ordered, expected arrival on August 10th. Two standard sizes 36”W x 24”T and 48:W x 36”T.

Disinfectant Wipes and Peroxide Bottles

  • 26,000 disinfectant wipe packages are in the warehouse, each package has 80 wipes.
  • Each classroom will receive two packages. Additional packages can be ordered by school.
  • Will evaluate making another large order after the first few weeks of school.
  • One peroxide cleaning bottle in every classroom (some rooms may have to share a bottle to start school). Bottles will be refilled by custodians.

Ventilation, Filters & Building Age

  • Elementary building fans will run from 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m., secondary building fans will run from 5:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
  • All schools have MERV - 8 filters, the recommended standard. Filters will be changed quarterly.
  • Average age of 25 elementary buildings acquired from Jordan School District (excluding Alta View, Butler, Midvale & Midvalley) is 46 years or constructed in 1974.