While the excitement of Back to School is still in the air, this year we know it will look very different due to COVID-19 concerns. When students and staff return to the classroom in Hillsborough County, they’ll be required to wear masks, so Humana and Hillsborough Education Foundation want to ensure everybody in the district who needs a mask has one.
Humana recently donated 229,000 masks in partnership with JPR Medical to Hillsborough Education Foundation, and HEF is working with Hillsborough County Public Schools to distribute the masks to all schools.
Humana’s Client Management Director Ray Hodorski said after monitoring what was going on in Hillsborough County, and as such a large employer in the community, Humana was inspired to do its part to help relieve the district of some of the costs associated with ensuring more than 225,000 students can safely return to school.
“Knowing that many of the students are challenged financially to be able to have the masks, and the fact that Hillsborough County as a whole was one of the first ones to mandate masks was really important to us,” Hodorski said. “We know this COVID is really putting a strain on everybody, so we’re really, really proud of the donation. Hopefully people will wear them and be able to help minimize this virus.”
After receiving a donation of masks in preparation for the upcoming school year, Tampa Heights Elementary Magnet Principal Wendy Harrison said she was incredibly grateful to Humana and Hillsborough Education Foundation because it will help ensure students can still safely come to school and learn even if they are in need of a mask.
“As you know, these are very trying times and everybody is coming together to make sure we do what’s right for our children,” Harrison said. “Number one in Hillsborough County is our students, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to make sure they’re successful. This is definitely going to take off some of the stress of making sure that we have plenty of masks should somebody need one so we’re able to keep each other safe.”
According to Hillsborough County Public Schools Chief of Operations Chris Farkas, the mask donation couldn’t have come at a better time. He explained that the school district is facing an additional $7-9 million estimated monthly expenses for personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a donation of this magnitude will be instrumental in offsetting costs that are not be funded by the state.
“I just want to thank Hillsborough Education Foundation and Humana,” Farkas said. “As you can imagine, in current times the reality is we have tons of added costs that were not anticipated before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sending over 200,000 masks to us is something that’s in dire straits. These masks are going to go to all of our kids, all throughout the district.”
Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell said she was incredibly thankful to Humana for this donation, and she hopes it inspires others to do what they can to support students and teachers in our community, so they have what they need to safely and successfully complete the school year.
“This is just a part of how one company is stepping up, but we definitely need people to follow in Humana’s footsteps and help us get these students’ needs taken care of, so we all can be proud setting these children on the right path in our community,” Jowell said.
Want to help make a difference in the lives of Hillsborough County students and teachers? Help us ensure they have the necessary supplies for continued academic success whether learning from home or school. Visit www.EducationFoundation.com/WaysToDonate to learn how you can get involved.