SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Students and teachers in Sarasota County will be back to in-person learning on Monday. This year, parents not only had their usual school supply list, but they also had masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, but when checking off the list of things needed to protect students and teachers, the Pine View School community realized they were missing one thing – air purifiers. They came together to make sure they had them by Monday.
“I had a lot of anxiety. I had a lot of concerns. I was definitely on the fence, but I’m excited that we have another level of mitigation for the risks. Teaching middle school, it’s not just your 20 students. You constantly have 100 plus kids coming in. I’m definitely still nervous, but feeling a little bit better today for sure,” Jenna Molinaro, a teacher at Pine View School, said.
Molinaro has been a 6th grade teacher at Pine View School for 18 years, but she says she never truly realized how close of a community she worked in until she saw one parent’s GoFundMe page for these air purifiers. The Aerus device is made by NASA technology, and received level 2 clearance by the FDA, and kills bacteria and viruses in any indoor setting.
“I posted the link to my GoFundMe on my Facebook thread, and I was starting to receive donations left and right. I went from 10,000 to 20 to 30 to 40. Just as a community of parents with a school as large as Pine View, we were able to pull resources. The GoFundMe page had over 700 shares when I last looked. Every time I looked, there was 100 more shores. That’s the positive thing of social media, and it really made a difference for us,” Courtney Rosenthal, a parent at Pine View School.
Rosenthal tells me that her GoFundMe campaign went viral, and the community raised a little over $70,000 in less than two weeks. It was enough to not only get an air purifier for all 112 classrooms at Pine View School, but also about 20 more for other Sarasota County Schools who need it.
“I have three kids who go to poem view and I teach here. I feel so much safer knowing that my kids, their friends, our teachers, our staff, everyone is going to have that added layer of safety. During the fundraiser, there were times that we weren’t sure everyone was going to be able to get one, and that’s definitely something we didn’t want,” explained Pamela Novak, a teacher at Pine View School.
District policy states anyone on campus will be required to wear masks and social distance at all times starting Monday, but being that the majority of the classrooms at Pine View are portables without filtration systems, parents wanted to make sure that the air quality was also safe.
“I was just so thankful that he community and parents came together. We had so much positivity in this outreach initiative,” Rosenthal said.
Although this campaign originally started to just supply pine view, many other schools have become interested, so the Sarasota County School Board is working with these parents to set up another drive to get more air purifiers in the near future.