Governor McMaster talks PPE, school reopening during visit to Johnsonville Middle School

Pee Dee

JOHNSONVILLE, SC (WBTW) — Governor McMaster visited Johnsonville Middle School Friday alongside lawmakers to discuss state investments in personal protective equipment for schools.

“This is a ten million dollar investment that we’re making,” the governor said in a news conference held in the school’s library. “We have to do the smart things which we know how to do in order to educate these children.”

10 million dollars’ worth of PPE and supplies are heading to school districts across South Carolina in an effort by the state to help classrooms open safely.

70 of the state’s 81 school districts have requested PPE help. That includes many in the Pee Dee and all of the districts in Florence County. The governor said Florence County districts will get over $650,000 in supplies.

“We were able to go into the situation with a deliberate, targeted approach,” Governor McMaster said. “And we’re coming out with a deliberate, targeted approach. And this is a part of that approach. And I’m confident it will meet with great success.”

Florence County School District Five Superintendent Randy Smiley said he was happy to have the governor, and that the state support is major.

“We’re also very pleased that the PPE is being provided to us because all of those kinds of supplies are expensive,” Smiley said.

The governor was joined by Senator Ronnie Sabb and Representative Roger Kirby.

The money for the PPE comes from the state’s COVID-19 Response Reserve Account. That was created in May when lawmakers allowed 155 million dollars for it.

Included on the laundry list of supplies headed to classrooms are hundreds of thousands of masks, cases of wipes and paper towels and many other things.

McMaster cited negative impacts to students and economic concerns for why he wanted to see schools reopen for in person learning.

“We have teachers that know how to teach children to read, how to read, how to write, how to think, how to grow,” he said. “And it is important we get those children in front of teachers and we do so safely”

Some supplies have already gotten in districts’ hands. It’s all been ordered, the state says, and is expected to arrive before school starts.

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