The Socorro Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Department provided their time and resources toward supplying hundreds of the district’s essential employees with face shields during the COVID-19 district shutdown.
Six high school CTE teachers volunteered to make the shields at home, while the city’s stay-at-home order was in place and the schools were closed. The teachers used the district’s available 3D printers, which are normally used by students in engineering, animation, and biomedical sciences programs.
“The printers were originally for the use of students, but have become tools for creating devices that can help slow the spread of people getting sick,” said George Thomas, director of SISD Careers and Technical Education department. “It is awesome to see the innovations of these machines in helping save lives.”
The shields take about an hour and half to make using the 3D MakerBot Printers. Once printed, the front of the shield is covered with a clear disposable sheet, which can be sanitized for reuse. Six holes are punched on the top of the mask horizontally so it can be clipped onto a headband forming the protective face shield.
Americas High School architecture instructor Bill Schmidt is one of the six volunteers who has been making the masks for essential employees. He has produced more than 250 shields.
“It’s a good feeling to contribute my time toward this,” Schmidt said. “It not only keeps us busy during this time, but hopefully is helping out other people who are essential workers within the district.”
Some 900 shields have been distributed to employees across the district, including the Child and Nutrition Services department. The food services employees have been preparing and distributing meals to students and families across the district.
CNS Director Shelley Chenausky said she reached out to Thomas when she saw the masks on television and thought they would be helpful safety items to provide to employees who are directly in contact with the public on a regular basis.
“The health of our employees is critical to us in order to continue serving the families in the community. Without those meals, our children would be greatly impacted,” Chenausky said. “It is critical that we keep our team safe and healthy. Mr. Thomas and his CTE team need to know that they are making a huge impact in the lives of the children and our workers. We can’t thank them enough.”
Thomas said the CTE team anticipates being able to provide some 7,000 shields to SISD employees when they return to schools and offices.
“We hope to be able to continue to provide these face shields to people who need them,” Thomas said.