COVID-19 masks

Oakland Business Owner Donates 10,000 KN95 Masks to OUSD Students

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An Oakland father has found a way to get thousands of KN95 masks into the hands of students.

The KN95 masks are in demand right now, especially among some teachers in Oakland, who’ve staged sickouts Thursday, demanding that every student and teacher get a regular supply of the masks.

These are not the masks that easily slide down your nose. KN95 masks are fitted, and health experts say they’re 75 times more effective at preventing COVID than surgical masks.

And for that reason, teachers in Oakland who staged sickouts last week and this week are demanding that every student and staff member receive one.

“We’re concerned that students aren’t safe, we need better masks, said Tamara Henry, Garfield Elementary Teacher.

Oakland resident Eugene Lee runs his family’s gravel and roofing supply company. It just so happens his company had a steady inventory of KN95 masks.

“We donated 15,000 to the city of Oakland, and 10K to the Oakland Unified School District,” he said.

It’s not the first time Lee’s company has donated KN95 masks during the pandemic. Back in 2020, Lee donated 35,000 masks to hospital workers.

“We donated our entire stock, because we really didn’t have a need for those compared to front line medical workers,” Lee said.

The district said all 10,000 of the donated masks were handed out to high school students, while the district waited on a large shipment of 200,000 KN95 masks for every student and staff member.

Lee guesses the entire supply of donated masks cost his company at least $35,000.

“It’s personal for us now, most of our partners have kids, and with kids at home we want to make sure that we take care of the people who take care of our kids, it’s the administrators, it’s the teachers and the school district,” Lee said.

As for the district’s long-awaited shipment of KN95 masks, it arrived Thursday. School Board Director Sam Davis tweeted out a photo of the district’s new mask supply, in adult and children’s sizes.

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