First Light Safety Products is donating the disposable masks to the school transportation industry, distributing most of them through the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Photo courtesy First Light Safety Products

First Light Safety Products is donating the disposable masks to the school transportation industry, distributing most of them through the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Photo courtesy First Light Safety Products

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — First Light Safety Products is donating a total of 90,000 disposable masks to the school transportation industry, 50,000 of which it is distributing through the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).

Cam Quan, director of sales, marketing, and customer relations for First Light, told School Bus Fleet that the supplier, which is a member of the NASDPTS Supplier Council, is procuring the masks through its parent company, Smartrend Manufacturing Group.

In an email to NASDPTS members, Executive Director Charlie Hood said that First Light contacted the association to get assistance in notifying states, and the NASDPTS board of directors approved participation in the program. The association is deferring to each state director to determine the best and most equitable method for making the masks available to schools and districts within their state if they choose to participate in the voluntary program. 

The number of masks allocated to each state will be based on its total number of school buses, rounded to the nearest 10, according to a flyer from First Light detailing the program. For example, Texas, which has nearly 47,576 school buses, will receive 4,920 masks. (The total numbers of school buses per state was sourced from SBF’s U.S. State by State Transportation Statistics for the 2017-18 school year.) The minimum quantity of masks per school is 100, and the maximum quantity is 500.
The recipients of the masks, whether state departments of education or school districts, will be responsible for the shipping cost, but First Light personnel will package and send the shipments.

First Light is collecting names of state directors who would like to receive masks to distribute among the districts in their state and plans to begin shipping them out this week.

“With over one million positive cases in North America, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Our heroes in the school bus industry have pivoted through this crisis, with selflessness and courage for our students,” the supplier said in a LinkedIn post announcing the program. “We thank you for all you have done, continue to do, and will do in the future. We are all in this together, and our industry will come out strong because of every one of you!”

First Light will run the program until July 30, 2020. If masks for each state have not been distributed by that date, the remaining masks will be redistributed to other states. If there are any masks that have still not been redistributed by September 30, 2020, First Light will redistribute them through other channels.  

“We greatly appreciate this charitable gesture from one of our Supplier Council member companies during this time of need,” Hood said in the email.

“When First Light Safety Products contacted us to request assistance with their face masks donation program, we were happy to jump in,” Michael LaRocco, president of NASDPTS and the director of transportation for the Indiana Department of Education, told SBF. “During these difficult times, companies and individuals are showing a generosity of spirit that is encouraging. Having more access to personal protective equipment for school bus drivers and other professionals who are still out in the field helping provide meals and other services is critical to their own health. First Light’s donation program is greatly appreciated by state directors and the local school districts and contractors we all support.”

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