Teachers turn to crowdfunding for pandemic supplies
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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.
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