Jacksonville parents raising money to provide DCPS teachers with air purifiers for classrooms

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local parents are raising money to put air purifiers in Duval County classrooms.

“We get the teachers, they’re joining this Facebook group,” local mom Brandie Middleton said.

It started with the Facebook group: “Donate a HEPA air purifier to a Duval County school classroom,” and then a GoFundMe page.

The community wants to protect teachers and students from COVID-19.

“The idea is that we’ve got a lot of unmasked students now in classrooms. The teachers have asthma. The students have allergies. There’s lots of coughing and sneezing that’s going on. The air purifiers are going to minimize that,” Middleton said.

The GoFundMe page was created a week ago and it’s already raised nearly $4,000.

Local mom Valerie Boote started the initiative when she realized some students wouldn’t be wearing masks this year, and other previous covid precautions in schools would be scaled back.

“We have several teachers with asthma. We have one with a congenital heart defect. She also has diabetes. We have a teacher in there that lost a student to COVID,” Boote said.

Teachers can make a request for an air purifier on the page.

However, right now, Boote said there are more requests than donations.

“I don’t want to have any teachers in this group that have requested a purifier that’s not getting one,” Boote said.

The purifiers aren’t cheap but Middleton and Boote said it’s worth the price.

“They vary in cost from a little over $100 to our biggest model. Some of the teachers’ classrooms are over 2,000 square feet. Those models are upwards of almost $700. The average purifier is about $350 at this point.” Middleton said.

“A lot of sad and scary stories and teachers have said that they basically have to put their fear aside when they go into the classroom to do their jobs,” Boote said.

Through a combination of direct donations and GoFundMe purchases, 18 purifiers have been distributed to DCPS teachers so far.

Find more information on the group’s GoFundMe page here. You can join the Facebook group here.