Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of children as they return to school has been pushed to the forefront of a national conversation. According to CNN, athlete and mogul Serena Williams is leading an effort focused on ensuring that underserved schools have the resources needed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus amongst youth.
The tennis star joined forces with the apparel brand Bella+Canvas, Scholastic and the National School Board Association for the creation of the #MasksForKids program. Through the initiative, they will donate 4.2 million face masks to schools throughout the U.S. Additionally, 54 million children will receive learning materials.
“Through the #MasksForKids program, schools can access affordable masks and educational materials, quickly,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post. “I’m grateful to be able to help educate our schools about this resource, and to be given the opportunity to serve so many students.”
Projects like #MasksForKids are needed. According to a report released by Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 cases in the United States have surpassed 5.2 million. WTOP reported children make up more than 7 percent of cases in the country. “Because so many kids with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, it’s certainly still possible that you are sending a child with asymptomatic COVID-19 to school. We need more surveillance testing of asymptomatic students and teachers, otherwise we may feel false reassurance that we are sending a non-contagious child to school,” Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. Jenny Radesky told CNN.
This isn’t the only philanthropic effort that Williams has led during the public health crisis. In July, she donated proceeds from her jewelry company—dubbed Serena Williams Jewelry—to Black-owned businesses that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. The Olympic gold medalist also donated 50,000 meals to the #GiveFromTheCart challenge, launched by Instacart, that benefited Feed America.