HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We learned Tuesday that children now make up 10 percent of all cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. A new effort launched Wednesday aims to keep thousands of local elementary school students healthy while learning from home.
Hanover Green Elementary School Principal Bill Kane is helping tackle the coronavirus crisis one backpack at a time. He helped hand out what are called COVID kits. Each one is filled with personal hygiene items for the school’s kindergarten and first-grade students. Brittany Baker brought her son Benjamin and daughter Samantha to pick up their backpacks.
“Nothing like wanting to be healthy and safe for school,” Baker said.
The COVID crisis has kept almost all of the students here learning from home.
“It’s a very difficult time. It’s sad to see these kids come in and me having to speak to you with these masks on,” Hanover Area School District Superintendent Nathan Barrett said.
But since masks are considered part of the pandemic safety protocol, each backpack contains one featuring a very famous mouse.
“It might help them. It might help them wear the masks, too, and give them more incentive to do so,” Colleen Conniff, a grandmother of three Hanover Area students, said.
Besides masks, the kits contain hand sanitizer, soap and shampoo, a toothbrush and toothpaste and even a snack. 5-year-old kindergartner Abigail Schneider and her dad picked up her backpack.
“I think it’s great and they should do it at every school,” Justin Schneider, Abigail’s father, said.
Hanover Area is one of seven school districts which the United Way of Wyoming Valley is helping in this way.
“Every family can be impacted in some way, shape or form. Those that need additional resources are so incredibly grateful for the support they’re receiving,” Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of Wyoming Valley Jennifer Deemer said.
While the COVID kits may be new, it’s part of a larger initiative by United Way called Nurse’s Pantry. Since that program helps students while they’re in school, the COVID kits help fill a gap.
“We don’t want a child’s well-being to go unattended to because of lack of resources,” Deemer said.
The United Way of Wyoming Valley plans to distribute 3,000 COVID kits to students through November.