HILLSDALE, Mich. — As local school districts prepare to return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, September 8, Hillsdale Hospital has been providing guidance, expertise and material support through a joint task force formed in July.
“Because schools in Hillsdale County planned to return to in-person instruction, we reached out to find out how we could help them do so safely,” Rachel Lott, director of marketing and development for Hillsdale Hospital, said. “We are all navigating this new COVID-19 world and we know that this is new territory for the schools. As the leading local healthcare provider, it’s important to us to be good partners with our community by providing guidance, recommendations and even supplies when and where we can.”
The hospital set up weekly calls with area school superintendents, including Troy Reehl, superintendent for Hillsdale County ISD, supply chain staff from both the schools and the hospital, infection control experts, the Hillsdale County Community Foundation and the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph (BHSJ) Community Health Agency. As a result, the hospital was able to help the schools source more options for PPE and cleaning supplies, secure a grant from the foundation for $82,000 to be divided amongst the schools throughout the county and vet their plans through BHSJ, the local health department.
“It is amazing to have such a supportive community and we appreciate the collaboration and efforts by Hillsdale Hospital and the Hillsdale County Community Foundation to support schools in this effort to create a safe, productive learning environment in our schools,” Reehl said.
To further support the schools’ efforts to obtain enough supplies necessary to minimize the risk of COVID-19 for their students, faculty and staff, Hillsdale Hospital is donating 10,000 cloth face coverings and an initial 600 gallons of hand sanitizer to the ISD, which will distribute the supplies among the schools.
“It’s important to us that our COVID-19 infection rates in Hillsdale County don’t increase as our students go back to school,” Lott said. “To help the schools keep students as safe as possible, we wanted to provide a mask to every student, teacher and staff member in the county. We have also been purchasing hand sanitizer produced by Grand River Brewery and were able to leverage that relationship to help the schools get more sanitizer at a lower cost.”
To help educate the public about the schools’ plans to keep students safe, the hospital hosted a Facebook Live panel discussion with school representatives and BHSJ on Tuesday. In addition, the hospital partnered with Hillsdale High School’s multimedia students, their teacher Mindy Eggleston and HHS principal Amy Goldsmith to create an educational video for students, parents and the community about COVID-19 safety at school. Still in production, the video will be released in the coming days before school starts.
“We are excited to partner with Hillsdale Hospital to produce these informative and fun safety videos for our families in The Hive, and in the community at large,” Goldsmith said. “Our team collaborated to present important information to families in a creative and entertaining manner. Living through a pandemic has required us to consider changes in our daily routines both at home and now at school, but we can do this together and have success. The videos highlight universal safety measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and the daily health screenings that schools will conduct. We are truly looking forward to having our students back with us and these protocols will ensure we can do so safely.”
For more information about the schools’ efforts to safely return students to the classroom or to review Hillsdale County ISD’s complete preparedness and response plan, visit hillsdale-isd.org. For more information about Hillsdale Hospital, visit hillsdalehospital.com.
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