Warehouse Team Delivers

Summary: Over New Year’s Day weekend, the SPS warehouse team sprang into action to pick up and distribute 60,000 COVID tests for staff and students.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Warehouse Team Saves the Day 

Faster than a rapid antigen test, more powerful than a snowstorm, and able to make 114 deliveries without missing a single beat. It’s not a bird or a plane. It’s Seattle Public Schools warehouse team! 

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” This quote has long been associated with postal workers, but after SPS drivers and warehouse workers braved the cold and snow to pick up and distribute 60,000 COVID tests during the New Year’s Day weekend, they can claim the title of Most Valuable Workers.

When the decision was made to close schools on January 3 to provide students and staff with COVID-19 testing, one giant hurdle needed to be cleared: how to get the tests into school buildings in a snowstorm and during the holiday season when most businesses are closed.  

The Department of Health agreed to provide the district with 60,000 rapid antigen tests, but their offices were closed because of the snow. The DOH said they could ship the testing kits, but delivery would have been delayed because of the New Year’s holiday. SPS Manager of Distribution Services Gary Deitz and his team of dedicated workers sprang into action.   

“Knowing that Dr. [Brent] Jones wanted to do testing on [January 3], we made the decision to go pick them up,” Deitz said.  

He enlisted two of his truck drivers to make the run to Lacey, Washington. To make sure the truck could handle the icy roads, the men threw in a set of snow chains and loaded it with pallets of copier paper to add to its weight. The drivers hit the road around 7 a.m. on December 29 and returned six hours later with COVID tests in hand. But their work wasn’t over. Once they returned to the warehouse, three workers with Teamsters 117 helped break down the 60,000 units by school, and four Teamsters 174 drivers made the drop-offs in two days. In total, they delivered tests to 114 school sites. 

“I want to throw kudos to the whole group, not just a couple. Everyone worked really hard to make this happen,” Deitz said. 

In hindsight, he said the situation could have been worse, but the odds were in their favor.  

“Potentially, it could have been bad, but we were able to go down there,” he said. “Traffic wasn’t bad, and they didn’t have to chain the truck up, and they were able to get down there and get back. Although they were telling me there were a lot of trucks in the ditch and stranded, we got them back with no issues. But it was pretty hellish, I guess.” 

Because of their actions, the district was able to test more than 14,000 students and staff members before they returned to school on January 4. Deitz said he was proud of the way his team stepped up and was thankful they were getting some recognition. 

“We’re really the heart of the district,” he said. “Everything that it takes to support a school comes through this warehouse.” 

Deitz said his team delivers 20,000 meals a day, as well as custodial supplies, copier paper, and everything it takes to support students in their learning. 

“We keep everything moving out there.” 

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