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Teachers in Granite School District worried about lack of PPE

Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 00:35:21-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Some teachers in the Granite School District have safety concerns just days before the scheduled start of classes.

Students return to the classroom on Monday, and teachers worry the district has not provided enough personal protective equipment.

“I went back to school Thursday and got three masks,” said Deborah Gatrell, a teacher at Hunter High School. “Friday, I got a spray bottle and some rags. Today, I got a spray bottle of hand sanitizer and some ionized cleaning solution.”

Gatrell isn’t alone with her concerns. Several others shared their thoughts with FOX 13 through text messages.

"I requested N-95 masks, face shields and acrylic barrier around my desk and received none of this," wrote one teacher who asked to remain anonymous.

Another added, “we don’t have any of the PPE that was supposed to come from the Utah State Board of Education.”

The Granite School District says teachers will be given more supplies in the coming days.

“I say thank you so much for your patience," district spokesman Ben Horsley said when asked what he would say to teachers who have concerns. "The reality is this was never going to be an easy task for our warehouse folks.”

Horsley shared several photos of the district’s warehouse showing boxes of items set to be distributed. The district maintains it will get everything delivered by the time the first bell rings on Monday.

“My superintendent has a huge F-350 truck. He has indicated himself, if there is a need for our district staff to go and help get these out, we have hundreds of school buses we can put at the ready as well,” Horsley said.

Monday, Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted that the state is providing five face masks and two shields for every teacher. Those will be distributed by each individual district.

Even with these precautions, Deborah and many fellow educators aren't sure they will be enough to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus.

“Logical, reasonable expectation is we will have an outbreak in a short period of time,” Gatrell said. “There is a crazy idea that teachers are lazy. We desperately want to teach in person. We just want to be safe."