MADISON – Wisconsin is waiting to receive hundreds of thousands of new face coverings for schools and child care centers from the Trump administration after a shipment that was half of what was expected and didn’t include masks that fit children.
State officials were expecting 1.6 million face masks — half for adults and half for children — as part of an effort to help schools reopen by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In late August, the federal department announced it would be distributing up to 125 million face masks across the country.
What came earlier this month was half the expected distribution and none could fit children, according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and Wisconsin Emergency Management.
The youth-size masks and the rest of the shipment is expected to arrive by mid-October, WEM spokesman Andrew Beckett said.
To support safe school reopening for students, teachers, and staff, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing up to 125 million cloth face masks, half adult sized and half youth sized, to states for distribution to schools. These masks were allocated according to the share of students from low-income families in each state.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said the department is shipping masks in two waves.
“The Youth sizes are being manufactured and will be shipped as supply is available,” she said.
When it announced its plan, the federal agency indicated half the masks will be adult-size, half will be youth-size and they will be allocated according to the share of students from low-income families in each state, Dan Rossmiller, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said last week in a blog post updating members on the distribution.
The administration indicated it “intends for these masks to support students, teachers, and staff in public and private schools as they reopen, with an emphasis on students who are low-income or otherwise with high needs and on schools that are providing in-person instruction,” he wrote.
The new distribution is in addition to what schools received earlier this year out of a distribution from the state of 2 million face masks and 5,000 thermometers, according to Beckett.