PPE Production at Dollar Academy

Dr Keys explains how staff within the Engineering, Design and Technology (EDT) department have utilised a laser cutter and three 3D printers to produce 3000 face shields for key workers.

Perhaps one of the more surprising outcomes of COVID 19 has been development of new working partnerships and friendships that will remain once the virus is a distant memory. As school closures began and remote teaching started to get bedded in, it also became clear that there were areas beyond the school where we could provide direct support.

The Engineering, Design and Technology department has a laser cutter and three 3D printers which we realised could be used to provide face shields to complement the PPE that health and care-workers were already being supplied with. Open-source resources enabled us to research and access designs for face shields that were based upon designs currently in use and that had been tested, evaluated and modified to provide the best fit and comfort possible.

We had the facilities and resources but were at a bit of a loss as to how to find people that could make use of these products. At this point, social media came into its own. Through Facebook and Twitter, we found a group of teachers that were starting to work towards the same aims as us. In joining forces with schools including, Larbert High School, Denny High School, Caldervale High, Kelvinside Academy and Forth Valley College, we have been able to find a synergy that has been immense. We have found suppliers happy to donate; through word of mouth and we have developed a network of organisations eager to receive donations of PPE. Within the first two weeks, we had supplied more than 3000 visors to individuals looking after vulnerable people, care homes, pharmacies alongside GP practices and hospitals.

For me, personally, it has been rewarding to be able to play a small part in supporting the work that the healthcare profession has been undertaking in fighting this virus. That, I expected. What has been an additional, powerful reward for me has been the opportunity to work as part of a wider group in which the local authority and independent schools have worked side-by-side and Design and Technology departments have worked seamlessly with Art and Design departments. Facebook Messenger, spreadsheets and Twitter enabled us to work incredibly effectively as a team which is all the more impressive when I consider that, to date, aside from colleagues at Dollar, I have not yet met one of my fellow COVID visor-makers.

Dr Deborah Keys