Amherst orders $240K in pandemic supplies for schools 

  • Amherst Regional High School GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

AMHERST — Before in-school learning can resume in the fall, the Amherst Regional Public Schools are making a significant investment in supplies that students, teachers and staff will have to use amid the pandemic.

“It’s going to take $240,000 to get us ready for the first 12 weeks of school in the fall,” Jill Conselino, nurse manager for the district, told representatives of the four regional towns at a meeting of the Amherst-Pelham, Amherst and Union 26 school committees last week.

Conselino said the order she placed, with the items expected to be delivered by late June, includes 100,000 adult masks, 16,000 pediatric masks, 13,000 KN-95 masks, 10,000 isolation gowns and 20,000 pairs of gloves.

In addition, she purchased 750 gallons of hand sanitizer and 250 pump bottles to hold the sanitizer in classrooms throughout the four elementary schools in Amherst and Pelham, as well as the middle and high school buildings that also serve students from Shutesbury and Leverett.

Getting the necessary supplies is one aspect of preparing for the 2020-2021 school year, and the return of students and teachers to classrooms for the first time since March, as the district awaits further guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Conselino said planning so far has focused on five areas, including obtaining personal protective equipment, getting face coverings and masks for all students and staff, deploying a system for ensuring regular hand washing and, in the absence of classroom sinks or nearby bathrooms, hand sanitizing, screening staff and students entering the buildings, and establishing isolation and discharge procedures.

Conselino said temperature screenings will not be part of the protocol, but any students who has symptoms of COVID-19 will have to be picked up by a parent or guardian within an hour, and a cleaning and sanitizing protocol for the classroom will be used.

Superintendent Michael Morris said one of the most anticipated challenges confronting the district is how to get children to the schools without a significant increase in the number of buses.

“It’s one of the largest variables in the whole operations,” Morris said.

Many parents might already feel uncomfortable allowing their children to ride on buses, which would help as the requirements are in place to limit capacity on the buses to maintain social distancing 

“There’s no way we’ll be able to run enough buses without parental support,” Morris said.