Local Health Care Organizations Team Up to Donate Thermometers and Masks to Portland Public Schools

Spectrum Healthcare Partners, Martin’s Point Health Care, and InterMed have joined together to provide 2,000 thermometers and 500 child-sized, reusable masks to distribute to Portland Public Schools students. The effort, coordinated by Spectrum Healthcare Partners and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, is intended to help students and families comply with school health and safety protocols. School nurses and multilingual, multicultural parent community specialists will be distributing the supplies to families in need.

Over the summer, the Maine Department of Education published a framework for reopening schools and returning to in-person instruction for public schools across the state. One of the requirements is symptom screening for all students and staff before coming to school each day. 

Portland’s daily symptom check includes the question, “Do you have a fever (greater than 100.4) or do you feel feverish?” Answering this question accurately is challenging for families without a thermometer, which is the case for many Portland Public Schools (PPS) families. The Portland Public Schools used local funds and statewide Coronavirus Relief Funds to purchase all of the necessary supplies for health and safety in schools. However, they did not have funding or resources to purchase supplies for families to use at home. 

The Foundation for Portland Public Schools, a nonprofit organization that works to address unmet needs of the school district, reached out to community partners to fill this gap. “Greater Portland businesses have a long history of investing in and supporting the Portland Schools. Over the last few months, healthcare organizations, along with many others, have shown their commitment not only to our community’s health, but also to addressing the equity issues in the schools that have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said FPPS Executive Director Andi Summers. “I knew that when Superintendent Botana shared this need that our local healthcare organizations would help.”

Another element of the PPS health and safety plan is the requirement for all adults and students 4 years old and above to wear a mask/face covering on the bus and in school. Students are asked to bring their own masks, so this generous donation of masks will help Portland Public Schools families comply. As Dr. Randy Barr of InterMed said, “When social distancing is not feasible, masks are the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. InterMed is proud to support efforts to reduce future COVID-19 infections in our schools and communities.”

Dr. James Kuhn of Spectrum Healthcare Partners, who helped initiate this collaboration, said “As healthcare providers we are committed to addressing the disparities in the healthcare system. Providing disadvantaged families with some basic tools to keep them safe while their kids go to school is a step in that direction. We are very happy to be able to help these students, and the Portland public schools.”