Large donation of facemasks to be distributed to students in high-need communities

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced on Oct. 22 that the California Department of Education received 500,000 cloth facemasks donated by General Motors for students in need across the state.

In a press conference announcing the donation, Thurmond said that allocation of the face coverings will prioritize the highest-need communities most heavily impacted by the virus, including families of farmworkers, African American and Latino students, students of essential workers, and California tribal communities.

“Our goal is to see these facemasks go to many of the communities where we know students and families experience disproportionate impacts of COVID. We hope to send these facemasks to communities where we know we can make a difference,” Thurmond said. “The safety of our students, educators and families is paramount as California school districts make important decisions about returning to in-person instruction, and access to a supply of personal protective equipment is essential for any school to reopen.”

The CDE will be working with county offices of education to distribute the donated masks.

California’s school reopening guidance for in-person instruction requires the use of face coverings for all staff and most students on school campuses, which makes the donation that much more vital in lower-income areas where children may not have access to more than one reusable mask.

“We are proud to donate 500,000 masks to help California schools plan and prepare for a safe return to in-person instruction,” GM Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson said during the press conference. “Education is fundamental to our future, and we are grateful to be able to give back to our communities at such a unique moment in history.”

In addition to the mask donation, GM provided a $1 million grant to the DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning program in April to provide resources such as school supplies, food and cleaning supplies to families in high-need school districts across the country. The grant benefited 106 classes in California at Stephen C. Foster Elementary School in Compton, Humphreys Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, and Markham Elementary School in Oakland.