Schools thanked for helping to protect NHS staff

HMC CHAIR THANKS SCHOOLS FOR MAKING FACE MASKS FOR NHS STAFF

The Chair of HMC Fiona Boulton has thanked schools for making and distributing thousands of vital protective face masks free of charge for front-line NHS staff combatting Covid-19.

At the forefront of this initiative are more than 100 HMC schools, some of which are producing 2,000 or more of these visors every day with the help of high-tech 3D printers.

State schools are also manufacturing the see-through plastic headgear, which are then distributed free to hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes across the country.

Mrs Bolton, the head of Guildford High School, which is one of those involved in producing visors, said: “I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all schools, teachers and pupils who have contributed their time and ingenuity to creating these crucial pieces of equipment.

“At a time of national emergency, it is inspiring to see schools pulling together in this way to help protect doctors, nurses and other key workers who are putting their lives on the line to fight this virus.”

The schools are responding to a growing demand for personal protective equipment from key workers concerned about catching the infection.

Many initially donated goggles, gloves and other items from their laboratories, but a significant number have now stepped up a gear by manufacturing their own, often raising funds for materials from their local community.

As the number of schools involved in this innovative production process grows by the day, heads have spoken of the importance of playing their part during the national emergency.

Among HMC schools that are creating large numbers of the masks are Stamford Endowed Schools, which is using laser cutters to produce 200 masks a day, and Oakham School.

Another, Tonbridge School, has even set up a website to give others simple guidelines for making the own masks in their classrooms and design and technology workshops.

The school, some of whose visors are being used by NHS staff operating an assessment centre in its car park, is sharing its expertise here.

Other HMC schools making visors include UppinghamGodolphinNorwich School, Monkton Combe School, Oundle, Royal Hospital School, Woldingham School, Ipswich School, Kingston Grammar School, Sutton Valence School, Taunton School, St Peter’s School ,  The Grammar School at Leeds and Guildford High School.,

Hampton School is also playing its part in the national response against the coronavirus pandemic by making and supplying vital protective equipment to local NHS staff.

The efforts of A Level students and former pupils at Latymer Upper, who have had orders for their visors as far afield as Liverpool and Wales, have been featured on Sky News.

Dulwich College, supported by James Allen’s Girls’ School, has also been highlighted on Good Morning Britain and Radio5live and many other schools including Merchant Taylors’ have been recognised in the media. Other examples of independent schools contributing to the national effort are listed here.

State schools from as far apart as Falmouth, Peterborough and Sheffield have also produced similar masks.

Stamford Endowed Schools principal Will Phelan said: “We are doing everything we can to help our community.

“I’m incredibly proud to see the excellent work of our teams; from the donations of food, supplies and personal protective equipment, to the manufacture of these face masks.

“We all need to pull together in these difficult times, and we are actively looking for ways to help.”

Norwich School head Steffan Griffiths said: “Norwich School has remained open to supervise the children of key workers and is now pleased to be able to use its resources to support the NHS in another way.

“I am grateful to my colleagues for giving their time and using their expertise to make equipment which enables health workers to assist those in need.

“It is important everyone plays their part in helping to explore ways in which we can be useful to these wider efforts.”

N.B. After contact with the British Standard Institute, HMC circulated new guidance for schools involved in the manufacture of PPE:

 

The organisation CLEAPSS, which supports science and technology in schools, has also published this guidance on the manufacture and supply of PPE by schools to healthcare settings:

  • Schools should not produce/manufacture equipment for use in healthcare settings unless they have been through the government approval process. The required standards are unlikely to be able to be fulfilled using school facilities, equipment and materials.
  • At the present time donating existing PPE to healthcare settings should only be considered following a request from a healthcare setting, i.e. not the school actively offering equipment out. Should such a setting contact the school for equipment the school must be able to provide detailed technical specifications of the kit that may potentially be donated so that an informed decision can be made by the healthcare setting.

Schools we have spoken to say they are aware that this equipment is not being produced in optimum conditions, but they are discussing any issues with the medical teams to whom they are supplying the items.