On a mission to save the first day of school, coordinator drives to California for plexiglass

Posted 8/27/20

Powell’s first day of school came close to being postponed — until one employee drove more than 2,300 miles in three days to pick up hundreds of protective barriers.

Rob McCray came to …

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On a mission to save the first day of school, coordinator drives to California for plexiglass

Posted

Powell’s first day of school came close to being postponed — until one employee drove more than 2,300 miles in three days to pick up hundreds of protective barriers.

Rob McCray came to the rescue last week when it became clear that necessary plexiglass barriers would not arrive by the start of school on Tuesday.

“All of our safety plans — particularly feeding kids — hinged around the plan of having plexiglass barriers so that kids could remove their masks and eat their food,” explained Park County School District No. 1 Superintendent Jay Curtis.

The district had ordered 1,335 small, individual barriers for cafeterias and classrooms. The initial shipment of 500 barriers was supposed to arrive by Monday, with the remaining shipments over the next few weeks.

“We were thinking, with at least 500, we could get those in the

cafeterias,” Curtis said. “Well, then we got the word that they hadn’t even shipped them.”

When Curtis found out on Thursday, he met with the Park 1 administrative team.

“We were talking about, we’re just gonna have to postpone school for a week so that we can get some of the safety equipment in, so that we can at least limp through for a few weeks,” he said.

One principal joked about jumping in the car and picking up the plexiglass barriers, wherever they were.

“Then I got a text from Mr. McCray saying, ‘If they can guarantee them, can I go pick them up?’” Curtis said.

The California-based company confirmed that McCray, the district’s support services coordinator, could pick up the first 500.

He left Powell within the hour on Thursday, driving from Powell to Cedar City, Utah. On Friday, McCray drove to Orange, California — where he was able to pick up the entire order of barriers — then back to Cedar City for the night. He rolled into Powell with the prized plexiglass by Saturday night.

McCray’s dad, Jim, joined him for the road trip to California.

“I picked him up in Riverton on the way through,” McCray said. “We took his trailer and I left mine there as the load weighed about 6,000 pounds. It was nice having some company for the long drive.”

On Sunday, McCray delivered all 1,335 barriers to the schools. His wife, Tammy, helped him unload Sunday afternoon.

“I had a couple administrators offer to help unload, but we decided to do it spur of the moment, and I knew they were going to have a really long week ahead of them,” McCray said.

With the plexiglass problem averted, schools opened Tuesday morning, as scheduled.

“I actually offered to lift Rob McCray on my shoulders and carry him around town while singing, ‘He’s a jolly good fellow,’” Curtis told the Powell school board on Tuesday evening.

He praised McCray’s “selfless dedication to our students.”

“I would venture to say that there just are not many school districts that can boast that they have people who would do things like that,” Curtis said.

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