Rice Lake School District staff members tie-dye masks for students

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 11:24 PM CDT
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RICE LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) - Making masks fun. That's the idea behind tie dye masks for students in the Rice Lake Area School District.

It started with a district reopening meeting when fourth grade teacher Lindsey Rick learned about a mask donation.

"We had about 4600 masks that were donated to the district, just plain white masks. They would be there for kids who maybe didn't have a mask of their own, or they'd forgotten one. As we were talking, I asked is it possible for us to do something to those masks so maybe it's not quite so obvious which kid has a district mask. So we got the clearance from our school nurses and our district administrator, and I called these ladies and we started tie dying," said Rick.

The ladies she called are social and emotional learning support staff Terri Brown, kindergarten teacher Stephani Shepler, and substitute teacher Candy Bandli.

They got together on two Saturdays to tie dye, then each took masks home to wash and dry.

"We started with traditional tie dye methods, and then we're like nope. We just started throwing the dye on them and making our own creations like dots and putting the dye on the table and resting the mask on it to soak it up. It just became this creative art project for all of us too," said Lindsey Rick.

A creative project that resulted in thousands of tie dye masks.

"I think we tie dyed about 2300 masks, does that sound right, ladies? A lot," said Stephani Shepler.

The Rice Lake Area School District is having in-person learning five days a week with a virtual option available for families who prefer to keep children at home. The women say they did it for the students.

"Knowing we were doing something to help and make it better for the kiddos we love and miss so much in this district," said Shepler.

“We were also thinking of our middle school and high school kids, and thought what would a middle or high school girl want to wear,” said Rick.

"I think it's just something that tells our students that we care about them, and that we are always thinking about them even when they're not with us at school we're always thinking about our students," said Terri Brown.

"We just hope they enjoy them, and it makes this crazy time of COVID a little easier to handle," said Candy Bandli.

"I think we've all been in those scenarios where you forget a mask, and we didn't want that to be a barrier to a child's education. We know kids have missed being at school, we've missed having them at school, and if this is one thing we can do to make sure they have the tools they need to be here safely, and to keep staff safe, then it was totally worth it," said Rick.

All the ladies say they’d tie dye more masks. But another idea is to let the students decorate and personalize their own masks so they can be involved in the process too.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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