The boxes arrived in the EHS mailroom from Hong Kong and other parts of China. None of the exterior markings suggested the contents were anything unusual, yet inside each were life-saving resources in the fight against Covid-19: thousands of face masks, including some of the N95s that provide the best protection against the novel coronavirus.
Parents of EHS students from China organized these shipments along with alumni and past parents living in the country. “We simply wanted to protect EHS faculty and teachers and their families,” says Rita Jia, who lives in Shanghai and whose daughter is Cindy Wang ’21. “We feel very touched and very proud of EHS.”
During spring break and in the weeks after, when the Episcopal campus was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, staff and faculty continued to care for as many as 20 students from China and Korea who could not return home because of travel restrictions. When the Covid-19 situation grew worse in the United States, “parents started to discuss anything we could do to support the School,” says Shasha Huang, whose daughter, Flora Kuipers ’23, returned home to Hong Kong recently after several weeks on the EHS campus.
Connecting via the WeChat app, the families — who live across China in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou — identified various ways to secure and ship the masks. Logistics weren’t easy, because airlines had reduced or eliminated service to China. One shipment organized by Jia sat for 10 days at the Hong Kong airport until a flight could be arranged.
In the end, the quantity was so generous that EHS Medical Director Adrianna Bravo and her staff donated more than 10,000 to hospitals, fire and emergency personnel, and assisted living facilities in the area after setting aside what would be needed for EHS staff and students.
“We weren’t surprised by the generosity of our families in China and the concern they expressed for our community, because they are just wonderful and caring people,” says Assistant Head for Advancement Christina Holt, “but we were astounded by the quantity of masks! Not only are we prepared to protect our students, faculty, and staff, but we were excited to extend this remarkable generosity and help the people on the front lines in our area. We are so grateful.”