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Baltimore Teachers Union Members & Local Restaurants Secure 20,000 High Filtration Masks for City Schools Staff

When Baltimore Teachers Union member Laur Plawker, a teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle School learned that staff was being mandated to return to in-person schooling without the necessary resources to do so safely, she never imagined that venting to a friend would lead to over 20,000 high filtration masks being donated to City Schools staff. “She was describing to me her anxiety and feelings about staff returning to the classroom, she didn’t feel like they had enough PPE and was going to actually borrow money from her parents, when she told me that, I thought we just got to do something,” Golden West Cafe owner Samantha Claassen said.

Samantha called up her colleagues at local restaurants The Local Fry, Toki Tako, and Thai Street to plan a fundraiser, where 20% of sales on 2/23 would go towards purchasing KN95 masks for City Schools Staff. Samantha, Laur, their friend Lena Tashjian who teaches at Baltimore City College, and the restaurants began promoting on their respective social media platforms, the local media picked up on the story, and the orders and donations began pouring in. Other local businesses heeded the call, ACME Paper Co., Performance Food Group and Cintas reached out to make additional mask donations. Even after the fundraiser technically ended, donations continued to roll in as the word spread.

The masks will be purchased through the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, and the Baltimore Teachers Union plans to deliver them to schools the week of March 8th. City Schools refused to purchase and supply staff and students with high filtration masks, instead opting for less effective cloth masks. BTU President Diamonté Brown said, “while we were disappointed that the district rejected our proposal to supply N95 masks to staff working in-person, I am deeply heartened by the power of the community to step up and help keep our members safe.”

Read Press Detailing How We Continue to Keep Our Members Safe:

The Today Show

Fox 45 Baltimore

*To request an interview with BTU President Diamonté Brown, and/or to join one of the mask drop-offs to schools, contact Corey Gaber at, 410-458-3820*