Earlier this week, in an effort to help facilitate a safe return to school for everyone, Bethel Park High School senior Makayla Yee delivered approximately 120 COVID-19 care packs that she and her Girl Scouts troop, with some help from the troop leader and area Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, Mrs. Suzanne Ambrose, had created for the staff at Bethel Park High School.
Yee said she began working on the project over the summer and started off as her looking for ways in which she could make a tangible difference in her school during the pandemic.
“School does not translate quite the same online as it does in person,” she said. “Speaking from personal experience, online schooling is significantly harder than in-person schooling; and I am an average student. Just imagine how difficult remote learning has been for students with learning disabilities.”
However, Yee noted, that returning to school poses a number of challenges, including how to keep everyone as safe as possible. “In a normal school year, colds sweep through our classrooms like wildfire,” she said, noting that a major reason for closing schools during the pandemic has been a lack of staff due to illness and an inability to find substitutes to replace them.
“We know that we need to protect our teachers for our in-person classes to continue,” she said. “Fortunately, we also know that small, simple steps can go a long way towards keeping everyone healthy and safe.”
The care packs, which were also part of DECA, an international organization of high school business students, and Girl Scouts of America projects, each feature a handmade mask and CDC-based informational pamphlet created by Yee. They also include a mask cord and an earless mask strap accompanied by a note of appreciation and encouragement written by a Bethel Park High School student.
“We had two primary goals going in: giving our teachers the tools necessary to protect themselves; and easily accessible resources and information about how they can best respond to the pandemic.”
Yee’s next challenge was to figure out ways to pay for the care packs, which she solved by creating a Facebook page
to sell enough masks and mask cords to raise the funding necessary to create care packs she intended to donate to the Bethel Park High School staff. She also partnered with local businesses, Wild Child Consignment and M&M Photography, which sold her masks out of their brick-and-mortar businesses.
Yee’s project placed fourth in the 2021 Pennsylvania State Career Development Conference (PASCDC).