Washington County Public Schools makes face shields for health care workers at Meritus Health

Washington County Public Schools used 3-D printers over the weekend to make facial shields for health care workers at Meritus Health.

The Innovation Center at Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown became a manufacturing zone Saturday and Sunday as school district staff created and assembled colorful facial shields to protect health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shields were made in response to reports of shortages of protective equipment for health care workers.

"Having a solid piece of equipment that can be disinfected is very important in our being able to make sure that it's adequate and appropriate," Laurie Bender, a representative with Meritus Health, said in a school district video depicting the weekend effort.

The benefit of a facial shield is that it can be reused unlike surgical masks.

Washington County Public Schools Communications Officer Erin Anderson said 100 shields were created, and it took four hours to make a shield.

"It started Saturday morning and went into Sunday," the school districts Communication Officer Erin Anderson said in an interview. "They got a prototype from Meritus."

There was a bit of trial and error.

Anderson said since the school has been closed, there was no heat in the building. Due to the cold temperatures, there were some early problems in creating the shields.

Participating staff included the Washington County Technical High School principal, assistant principal and teachers. Superintendent Boyd Michael also lent a hand assembling facial shields.

Michael stated in the video posted to his Facebook page that he was "surprised" to learn of the critical need for facial shields at Meritus.

Technical High School Principal Rodney Gayman said in the video that working with the 3-D printer was a learning experience.

"Thankfully we had our teacher, and she was able to come in to teach us in a very short amount of time," he said. "It's very different. (But) it's been a joy to come in and be able to help with this."

Bender shared her appreciation for the effort.

"For our front-line workers and staff, this is just so appreciated and so awesome in terms of work in partnership with the Washington County Public Schools system," she said in the video.

Anderson said in the interview that they're open to making additional facial shields if needed.

"We're waiting to see what the needs are from Meritus," she said.