Technology teachers are making a difference to COVID-19 local front line workers by producing free face shields

Teachers with 3D PrintersMinisink Valley’s commitment to the community also extends to those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic through a clever idea brought to reality by the district’s technology teachers: Face shields as personal protective equipment (PPE) using 3D printers and traditional overhead transparency paper.

Middle school technology teachers Rich Budd and Jonathan Clemmons, along with high school technology teacher Chris Tuthill, are using the school’s 3D printers to create headbands to be used by front line workers in hospitals, nursing homes and for EMS first responders and law enforcement personnel.

Helping to fill the void….

newspaper storyTheir efforts are making a very small — but critical— dent in the void local front line workers are experiencing by not having enough face shields and masks as protective wear during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Depending on the user’s preference, the face shields can be cleaned and sterilized for multiple use. But most importantly, are being distributed for free. The teachers have assured recipients that every face shield has been sterilized and is securely packaged.

“We didn’t come up with the design, it was easily findable on the Internet,” said Mr. Budd, adding he knew other school districts in the area are helping with similar efforts.  “We printed a prototype, liked how it look, reminded ourselves we had the ability to create quantities on a broader scale and got the green light to move ahead from administration.”

head band with transparency paperBlending old school teaching methods with new technology

The face shield is completed when the headbands are paired with three-holed transparency paper used with overhead projectors. It’s a unique blend of old school teaching methods with new technology.

Mr. Clemmons even made sure the design was useable by asking one of his former students, now a nurse, to take a look at a sample and offer recommendations.

Realizing social media has the power to reach people in mere seconds, Mr. Budd posted the district’s face shield offer on his personal Facebook page. Within minutes, requests poured in by the dozens.

“We have more requests than we can handle,” he said. “We’ve been inundated. At least 900, right now, and growing. We’re going to try to produce enough to respond to everyone, if we can. We’re very grateful the district gave us access to our rooms. There’s been nothing but full support from them. We have to give a shout out to the custodial staff, too, because they’ve been just great with us.”

rich budd wearing face maskWho has been helped?

As of today, April 10, 684 have been distributed to places like Valley View Nursing Home, Orange Regional Medical Center, Bon Secours Hospital in Port Jervis, Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern and the New York State Police as well as other private health care facilities.

Requests have also come in from St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick, the Otisville Fire Department, Mobile Life Support Services and the Orange County Office for Emergency Services.

“The stories we have heard about people in the field not having supplies is just gut wrenching,” added Mr. Budd.

Each face shield headband takes between 45 and 90 minutes to print. The 15 classroom and two industrial printers can make 13 to 15 an hour, or an average of 90 a day.  They’ve been going non-stop since production started.

“The materials (for the headbands) are expensive,” said Mr. Clemmons, who taught middle school math for many years at a time when overhead projector use was in vogue.   “We’ve even taken some of our own money to get materials for the headbands. That will determine how far we go. We are searching in the building for transparency paper and we’re finding it. Things have a way of coming around circular. We’ll figure out a way to replenish the supplies.”

The teachers said organizations are welcome to join the list of those looking for face shields by emailing to:

headband with 3D printerCan you help?

With the district’s blessing, they also welcomed anyone wanting to donate funds to help them get more headband materials. To learn more, email to:

“If what we’re doing makes a tiny, positive impact on keeping someone protected while they do this critical work of caring for sick people, it’s worth all the time, printer use, product use,” added Mr. Clemmons.  “We’re all in this together.”

For more photos, visit the district’s Facebook page.