ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — As the coronavirus pandemic continues and students across the country return to school for an abnormal year, schools are struggling to obtain necessary Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, for students participating in in-person learning.
Local PPE company School Health Corporation usually has a busy season starting each year on July 4, but this year they have struggled to keep up with demand for months.
“Normally schools would order a few cases of gloves for their nurses. Now they’re ordering truckloads,” said Rob Rogers, President of School Health Corporation.
School Health usually sources their products from China, but due to COVID-19 originating in the country and an already strained supply system, Rogers was forced to look elsewhere.
“We spent April and May trying to source product from wherever we could find it,” Rogers said. “We would make these large wire transfers to people we didn’t know for product we hadn’t seen.”
In the wake of losing much of their supply, School Health looked to other local businesses. They partnered with a mask producer from Franklin Park, and a local brewery that shifted their production to hand sanitizer instead.
Despite the initial panic, Rogers said that the supply chain has slowly stabilized and replenished, although he expects gloves to be difficult to obtain for the next year.
School Health is selling new offerings due to the pandemic, including plexiglas partitions, deep cleaning sprayers, and high tech thermal scanners that are capable of detecting a student’s temperature as they walk by.
Rogers said they have sold material to all 50 states at all levels K-12.
“I think if schools wanted to reopen, they’ll have the supplies that they’ll need. It’s just a matter of whether they can all agree that’s the right thing to do,” Rogers said.