Hofmeister encourages school blood drives as supply plummets

Oklahoma State Department of Education

As blood supplies have dwindled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today urged schools to host drives for staff and students to help ensure the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) can meet demand.

Blood drive cancellations are driving supplies to critically low levels. To maintain a strong blood supply, 1,200 donations a day are needed in Oklahoma. With more than 30 percent of total donations in the state collected from donors associated with education groups, school-based drives are critical.

“One of every three units of blood used in our state is collected from blood drives held with the educational system,” said Hofmeister. “School-based drives are essential to ensuring a strong blood supply for our friends and neighbors. I encourage all educators to uphold the Oklahoma Standard of helping one another through difficulty by supporting blood drives.”

OBI has taken measures to ensure the donation process is safe, implementing social distancing within designated spaces and spreading drives across multiple days to reduce the number of donors at a given time. Additionally, sanitation practices, particularly in high-touch areas, have been enhanced above the customary medical-grade procedures. Temperatures are screened outside the donation area, and donors and staff are masked. Donors can also complete health screening questions before arriving at the blood drive site to encourage minimal contact between blood drive staff and donors.

Healthy students 16 and older are eligible to donate if they weigh at least 125 pounds, while donors 18 and older have a minimum weight requirement of 110 pounds. All donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies that reveal whether an individual has been previously exposed to the virus. Those 16 and 17 years of age must have parental permission to receive this testing.

OBI has produced a flyer and video to encourage schools to host blood drives. To schedule a drive or for additional information, visit obi.org.