Due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools have added a new item to their annual back-to-school supplies list.
However local organizations like the Jackson County Fab Lab are helping to get students masks.
The Fab Lab of Jackson County, a STEM education-based facility for students, has pushed aside its 3D printers and robots to make room for sewing machines and yards of fabric to help out its community in the midst of a pandemic. Fab Lab Manager Scott Beebe said, “It’s a challenge at first, but that’s what we try to get kids to embrace is the challenge of things. So, this is the biggest challenge any of us have ever faced in our lives.”
Chevron has partnered with the Fab Foundation to provide a $10,000 grant and all necessary materials for the production of 4,500 fabric masks over the next month for local students, teachers, and staff. Pascagoula High Principal Dr. Caterria Payton said, “Anytime we have an opportunity to work along with the Fab Lab, Chevron, or any of our community sponsors it’s a plus for the school district.”
To help students get prepared for the new school year and all the new COVID-19 mandates to go along with it, including wearing masks in the classrooms, the Fab Lab of Jackson County has spent the last two weeks hand sewing 500 masks, 300 of which were delivered to Pascagoula High on Tuesday. “A lot of people have lost their jobs. We shutdown. And so everything you’re asking students to buy extra this year to go to school is just an added expense that they already didn’t have the money for before,” said Beebe.
Despite the new mask requirements, Principal Payton says the beginning of the school year is still a time of excitement for students. “I have had the awesome opportunity to speak with many students. And those who are coming back, they’re excited about coming back. Of course, their parents are nervous, they are too, but we’ve reassured them that we are going to do whatever we can to keep them safe.”
Pascagoula-Gautier School District is set to begin school on Thursday.