√ Ready, Set, Smile's mission is to prepare and empower all children in the community to care for their oral health through education and preventive services. As we bring our portable dental services into schools, our vision is for every child in the community to have an opportunity to be free of dental disease. We aim to help hundreds of underserved Minneapolis children achieve better dental health. We provide services in areas of high need at no cost to families.
Ready, Set, Smile has been a school-based program since its inception. With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, we have been forced to adjust our model. While some schools are allowing us to come into their schools, not of all the children we would typically treat are being educated in traditional classrooms. Each of our 27 partner schools are organizing learning in different ways. Some are going hybrid, while other are completely distance learning. Several are giving parents choice in where their children will participate in school learning. All are limiting the number of people in the buildings at one time.
This situation has forced Ready, Set, Smile to rethink our delivery model of service, which presents both challenges and opportunities. Our education services will often be limited to online interactive platforms, requiring that we prepare materials that can be easily emailed in advance to families or easily shown on screens. We are finding other locations in which to hold out portable dental clinics, such as the building in which our offices are located, churches, and an empty clinic loaned 1 or 2 days a week by an orthodontist who has supported our work over the years.
The pandemic has also required us to take extra precautionary measures to maintain a safe environment, including purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) These items are: surgical gowns (which have a limited washability limit), a washer/drier to clean those gowns, KN95/N95 respirator masks, head covers, and face shields.
Scarcity of resources has resulted in price increases and delays in getting even our basic equipment of gloves, sanitizer and disinfectant wipe. We are looking for funds to provide us with the means to keep serving children with the dental care they need during the pandemic until we might go back to our normal operations.