Many local students will soon be wearing masks thanks to Rush Health Systems.
The health care system bought 40,000 cloth face masks and donated them to more than 15 school districts in East Mississippi and West Alabama as well as two colleges, according to a Rush Health Systems press release.
Seven thousand of those masks were delivered to Lauderdale County School District and 5,000 to Meridian Public School District, said Cheri Barry, executive director for the Foundation for Rush.
“It’s important when you have community partners that know the battle is not just keeping kids safe at school, but it’s keeping them safe throughout the community, over the weekends, when they’re at home,” Meridian Public School District superintendent Amy Carter said.
Secondary students in the district started attending in-person classes four days a week this week.
“It’s very important that our students do and our families do all we can to keep themselves safe,” Carter said. “The longer we’re safe, students are safe, the longer we can hopefully continue our face-to-face classes.”
She said that reusable masks have to be washed everyday, so the donation will help ensure that students have a clean mask each day.
Barry said they provided one mask per child in each school district in the service area of Rush Health Systems. Meridian Community College was also among the recipients of the donation.
“We wanted to partner with our community and make sure that all of our children were ready to get back into the school system and be protected,” Barry said.
In some cases, the masks were delivered to district offices, and in other cases, the face coverings were brought to Rush Health Systems clinics, where schools could pick them up. The reusable masks come in both youth and adult sizes.
“We feel a deep sense of gratitude to the educational professionals who have remained committed to educating our leaders of tomorrow under what are some very difficult circumstances,” said Larkin Kennedy, Rush Health Systems President and CEO, in the news release. “The health and safety of the communities we serve is a top priority for us, and we wanted to provide our community with an important layer of protection as schools reopen.”