School districts in the area are teaming up with the Educational Service District in Vancouver to find a better deal on personal protective equipment during the pandemic.
School districts in Arlington, Lakewood and Marysville are three of the 413 public and private schools in the state that are partnering with ESD 112 to purchase face masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment on a bulk, discount rate.
“They can organize on a much larger scale than a school district can,” said Brian Lewis, executive director for operations for the Arlington School District adding that prices of equipment is much lower than on the commercial marketplace. For example, blue face masks had been costing 50 cents each, but available at 2 cents each through the ESD. Face shields had been costing $6 and $10 each, but the ESD provides them at $1.45 each.
“It’s such a great benefit,” Lewis said. The school district made its first purchase in summer 2020 and planning to make another purchase in January. Equipment that can be purchased through the ESD includes non-medical face masks, face shields, sanitizer, nitrile gloves and disinfectant wipes.
The Lakewood School District tried purchasing PPE on the commercial market earlier in the year, but problems arose.
“We started having much more delays than anticipated,” said Daniel Lee, executive director of human resources and student support for the Lakewood School District. The school district is going to partner with ESD 112 to get a better price and a more consistent delivery.
ESD 112 voluntarily stepped up to support school districts to help them purchase PPE to facilitate a return to in-person education, said Monique Dugaw, executive director communications and public engagement for ESD 112 in an email. ESD 112 works with other educational service districts in the state to disperse PPE to individual districts.
Because PPE is purchased for such a large group, suppliers delivered to a central distribution point to get the best buying power for schools. Dugaw said more than 70 suppliers sold materials to the ESD.