COVID-19

Teachers turn to crowdfunding for pandemic supplies

DJ Cashmere Oct 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Teachers need supplies for remote learning: headphones, laptops, tablets, cameras. They also need safety equipment for in-person learning: air purifiers, face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
COVID-19

Teachers turn to crowdfunding for pandemic supplies

DJ Cashmere Oct 2, 2020
Teachers need supplies for remote learning: headphones, laptops, tablets, cameras. They also need safety equipment for in-person learning: air purifiers, face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
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Across the country, students are back in school — some in-person, some remote. Parents are often asked for donations of supplies like pencils and markers to help stock classrooms. This year, a lot of teachers also need pandemic-related supplies.

Kameron Oldroyd has been teaching middle school in Utah’s Jordan School District for two decades. But he’s never started a year like this.

He checks his students’ temperatures and provides them with hand sanitizer as they enter his seventh-grade tech and engineering class. It’s a hands-on course. But because of COVID-19, his students can’t share supplies. So he’s trying to buy everyone their own safety glasses and vinyl gloves. He also said he needs extra electronics equipment.

“Our principal right now is amazing,” Oldroyd said. “Anything we need, she tries her best. But budgets this year are just wonky as all get-out.”

So he’s turned to online crowdfunding. He’s trying to raise more than $3,000 using a website called DonorsChoose.

He’s not alone. Nearly a million teachers have tried crowdfunding for their classrooms over the last twenty years, according to Brett Lee, a professor at Texas State University who has studied the practice.

But recently, teacher crowdfunding needs have changed. “The supply requests during the pandemic are in two categories,” Lee said.

Teachers need supplies for remote learning: headphones, laptops, tablets, cameras. They also need safety equipment for in-person learning: air purifiers, face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.

In August, DonorsChoose said it got more than 12,000 requests for items like these. And teachers are crowdfunding on other sites, too.

Often, those teachers work in schools with high economic need, Lee said. “We’re seeing them say, ‘Hey, my kids have the right to be healthy and to be safe. Even in the midst of the pandemic. Regardless of their socioeconomic background,’” he said.

It’s not easy to fundraise while teaching in-person, teaching remotely and trying to stay safe. “I go home way more tired,” said Oldroyd. “I’ve been staying way later.”

Oldroyd teaches five subjects to more than 200 students. He wants to make sure every one of them can focus on learning safely this year.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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