SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is raising money to buy jackets for hundreds of Santa Barbara Unified School District elementary school students as they return to modified campuses.
Along with other safety measures like universal masking and physical distancing, schools now are holding classes outside or in rooms with open windows and doors to increase airflow and reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.
Margie Yahyavi, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation's executive director, says principals have reached out to superintendent Hilda Maldonado about kids feeling cold and uncomfortable after returning to these modified campuses.
“And some parents aren’t wanting to send their kids back to school because they’re cold,” Yahyavi said Thursday. “They don’t have the appropriate clothing.”
Many families are unable to afford suitable warm clothing for their kids, while others would benefit from a new, well-fitting jacket for cold mornings and wet or windy spring days.
“The opportunity to take that one thing off the plate of a family to have to purchase a jacket for their child to be able to learn outside is just a gift, a great gift," said Harding Elementary School principal Veronica Binkley.
Harding students returned to campus this week for the first time since last March. All 290 students that opted to come back for in-person learning are set to receive a jacket through the fundraiser.
The Education Foundation is trying to keep local students' learning environment as comfortable as possible.
“For the children that are cold, that’s gonna be the first thing on their mind,” Binkley said. “It’s not going to be what they’re supposed to be learning about."
“The kids have so many needs, the district has so many needs,” Yahyavi said. “And so we’re just trying to help any way we can as an organization, and to galvanize the community to come together.”
The goal is to raise $22,000 to buy jackets for 1,100 kids across the district's nine elementary schools. As of Thursday at 5 p.m., more than $4,500 had been raised.
Apparel company Columbia has partnered with the Education Foundation to provide jackets at a discounted rate.
You can learn more or donate through this Education Foundation webpage.