GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County Schools spent more than $120,000 on personal protective equipment (PPE) ahead of the start of the school year, according to purchase orders obtained by WCNC Charlotte.
Of that total, nearly $5,000 went to buying equipment for two private schools.
According to purchase orders filed in July 2020, Cramerton Christian Academy received $3,406.98 worth of PPE while St. Michaels in Gastonia received $1317.13 worth of supplies.
Gaston County Schools said it purchased those supplies with Federal CARES Act funds specifically designated for privates schools, and the school system is responsible for making PPE purchases for private schools in its community.
For its own schools, Gaston County spent $115,534.84 during summer break, purchasing more than 120,000 masks, more than 8,000 gloves, and 34 non-contact thermometers.
The purchase orders, filed in June and July 2020, do not represent all of the county's PPE supply as administrators said local businesses and Gaston County Emergency Management donated supplies.
Gaston County Schools PPE documents
Pam Miller is the president of the Gaston County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, and she said some teachers are getting the PPE they need, but others are not receiving needed supplies.
"All schools should have what they need to teach school safely especially during these times," Miller said.
Citing the possibility of returning to a full week of in-person instruction, Miller said, "We need to think about the fact that we're going to need even more of those supplies because we're going to have more students at school five days a week."
In an email, spokesman Todd Hagans wrote: "I am not aware of any issues with ordering and purchasing PPE. The supply we have is good, and we are not experiencing any problems right now."