At-risk youth in Orange County can resume in-person tutoring thanks to a donation of personal protective equipment by the California Apartment Association and Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Steve Faessel.

The equipment consists of transparent shields, or “sneeze guards,” that fit on students’ desks to make in-person learning safer during the pandemic. The dividers will benefit Higher Ground Youth and Family Services, which offers educational assistance to at-risk youth. Victor Cao, CAA’s senior vice president of public affairs, helped to deliver the equipment on Feb. 19.

Staff at Higher Ground noted that students, especially those in Anaheim, have been struggling in their studies without one-on-one tutoring and a community environment.

“This is the first PPE donation we have ever received. The donation from CAA and Mayor Pro Tem Faessel will be instrumental in helping us reopen tutoring and family assistance services in the summer,” said Joe Baldo , Higher Ground executive director.

Added Faessel: “Thank you to the California Apartment Association for supporting me individually over the years and Anaheim City Council District 5.”

Kevin Forsyth, Essex Property Trust, worked with CAA’s Cao over the past few months to arrange the custom production of the desk shields dividers.

“As housing providers, we’re deeply committed to ensuring a high quality of life for our residents, and we understand how the pandemic has affected the way students learn at home,” Forsyth said in a warmly received video message for the nonprofit. “We at CAA hope that our donation will help Anaheim students engage with tutors in a safe and productive environment. Best wishes to you and the students at Higher Ground!”