More schools in the U.S. are installing laundry machines to help students living in poverty. They use these machines for free so they can come to school with clean clothes.
Observers expect this trend in schools will continue and rise in demand. What do laundry machines and clean clothes have to do with education?
Lake County Schools in Florida recently launched its School Laundry Program following a similar California schools initiative. Some 17 schools in the district now have washers and dryers for students' use.
Since its installation, teachers saw marked improvements in students' attendance, academic performance and extracurricular and social activities, Daily Commercial reported. "We noticed students that had to come to school in dirty clothing not wanting to come to school," Monica Gordon, a principal, said in explaining why the schools installed the appliances. "We wanted to take down those challenges."
East High students in Salt Lake City also have new showers, laundry machines and dryers for students. Donations keep pouring for stocking the schools' pantry and washrooms with laundry needs.
Some 50 to 100 students at East High reportedly have no access to good laundry or bath on a regular basis. "A lot of them don't have them in their own homes, and a lot of them are afraid to ask their friends or someone else," senior student Emily Beatse said, as per Fox Salt Lake City.
School Principal Greg Maughan said he's expecting school attendance to increase because of these services. An increase in attendance means more students could likely successfully complete high school and improve their chances of going to college or landing work.
Laundry machines are more of a necessity than a luxury or perk and school officials recognize it's also their responsibility to students. In order for the programs to move forward, however, some schools tap companies like Whirlpool for help and funding.
A 2016 study revealed the positive effects of laundry machines in schools to the students. Citylab reported 90 percent attendance improvement among students in laundry programs within a year of launch.