JEFFERSON — Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell said Tuesday the district will provide school supplies for all students, free of charge, for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

The district will provide all paper, pens, kleenex boxes, glue, crayons, scissors, folders, etc. for the about 1,275 expected students in every grade across the district, in an effort to help out parents and guardians during a time when the nation has been hit hard economically due to an economic shutdown earlier this year from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were talking about school supply lists with the principals and I said, ‘Let’s cut all of that out,’” Barnwell said Tuesday. “I mean kleenexes, hand soap, pencils, etc., I’ve just always thought the district should have been providing the school supplies for students all along.”

Barnwell said the district should be able to cover the cost of the supplies from its general fund operating budget.

“These are essential items for the classroom and students will be able to show up on the first day of school and have everything they need here already,” Barnwell said. “Parents can buy personalized backpacks and folders for their students if they want to but everything the students need will be here for them.”

Nearby Karnack ISD has provided free school supplies for its students, district-wide, for the past two years and Marshall ISD joined in the fray last summer by hosting a “Pack the Bus” drive to collect school supplies for all of its elementary school students.

Jefferson ISD has adopted its 2020-21 school year calendar and set the first day of school for Aug. 17. The date could change depending on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency’s orders regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.