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The growing need for school supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic

More kids need tools for school and teachers need supplies for their virtual and physical classrooms but fewer supply drives are happening to help meet those needs.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Typically the days and weeks leading up to going back to school are full of supply drives and shopping but, like many other things, the coronavirus has changed what that will look like this year. The Guilford Education Alliance says many school supply drives were canceled this year because of the pandemic but the need for supplies only grew. 

"We know there are a lot of uncertainties with 2020-2021 and we do know that school will continue whether it’s online or it’s remote so we want to make sure that we are meeting the needs of students and teachers still," Karen Hornfeck, the director of communications said. 

The alliance operates the Teacher Supply Warehouse where teachers can go and "shop" for free supplies. From notebooks to posters and everything in between, they're able to stock up on items for their classrooms and students. Even though kids won't be in classrooms for the first nine weeks, those materials and donations are still needed. 

"If 2020 has taught us nothing else it’s at all this is rapidly changing so it’s hard to plan long-term," Hornfeck said. "So we’ve got some ideas of what teachers will need but we anticipate that will change as the situation with the pandemic evolves so any donation that you give us really allows us to purchase those exact supplies that teachers need for that exact moment."

Once students go back to school buildings, the need for supplies will be even greater in light of new regulations.

"Typically there would be supplies that teachers would let students share so scissors and crayons and markers and things like that we know now that best practices for COVID prevention is each child has their own supplies and they do not share so that’s really increased demand for some of those basic supplies," she said.

In addition to donating money and hosting supply drives, GEA also has an Amazon wishlist. You can buy items off of it and they'll ship directly to the organization. They're working on ways to get the items to students and teachers in a contactless way.

But the work hasn't stopped during the pandemic. Over the summer GEA got free laptops into the hands of nearly 9,000 Guilford County students with the help of Technology of the Future. They've also helped deliver 2,000 school supply kits to kids with Backpack Beginnings.

Visit www.GEANC.org for more information on how you can help them with their mission of making sure Guilford County students succeed.