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PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) – Machines whirring and hands working show that the fight against COVID-19 is still on in Paterson.

In hopes of delivering a blow in the fight, Paterson-based Protective Health Gear announced a donation of 30,000 masks to Paterson Public Schools.

“Every student in every school is going to get a free mask,” said Mayor Andre Sayegh.

“Our high filtration face masks are our American answer to the KN95 style mask,” said Protective Health Gear CEO Brian Wolin. “We use a triple layer material, almost like when you have a certain type of tissue that’s triple layer. It’s very soft on your face and we also focus on breathability.”

Paterson Public Schools called for the return of a mask mandate when students came back on Jan. 3. On that day alone, officials say there were 32 recorded cases of COVID-19. Prior to the break, a number like that was closer to what Paterson Public Schools would see in one week.

“I was very pleased that we put the mask mandate in place,” said Superintendent Eileen Shafer. 

The school district could rescind the mandate as early as sometime next week, depending on if they see cases continue to fall. “We are trending in the right direction,” said Shafer, “and we knew that would happen. Everyone was together the week before for the holidays. What’s important is this week: what does the data look like this week, and then we’ll make a determination.”

While the priority is the safety of everyone in the schools regardless of where the masks come from, school officials say they’re proud of the fact that not only are these masks made in Paterson, but they are made by the hands of Patersonians.

“As soon as [PHG] saw the mask mandate, I got a phone call. We’re certainly appreciative of the donation,” said Shafer.

“I knew we had to be there to help,” said Wolin.