KCS delivers more than 60 face shields to local agencies

Published 12:01 am Friday, April 10, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

KANNAPOLIS – In late March, Kannapolis City Schools began using its 3-D printers to manufacture holders for face shields.

The district delivered a handful of the holders to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte as a test run and has been creating the holders as fast as it can run its machines.

Career and Technical Education Director Daryle Adams said the district’s two small machines can create a mask every five hours, and its larger printer can create one in two to three hours. The district purchased two new printers before all public schools in the state were ordered to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 14.

KCS is now repurposing transparency sheets to use as the shield part of the face shields as well. It created more than 60 by Wednesday.

Because Atrium’s Health’s needs were being met by others, the district decided to refocus on community organizations that need the shields. It has given shields to a handful of local organizations.

Cooperative Christian Ministry was one of the organizations to which KCS delivered the shields. Ministry Director Mike Wojciechowski said the nonprofit requested and received four shields to help protect staff, volunteers and families at its drive-through pantry. Workers at the pantry line interview people as they come through to get their information.

Wojciechowski said the ministry would not be able to find appropriate face shields otherwise, and he could not even find the respirators used for sanding in hardware stores.

Because of demand, KCS had to order more of the plastic being used to print the shields for $120. It costs about a dollar to make one shield.

Adams anticipates eventually the local need will be met, and the district will no longer need to make the shields. But at no point has mask-making begun to feel normal.

“I hope this doesn’t become normal,” Adams said.

He said the main goals for the district include feeding students, e-learning and preparing for the next school year. The mask-making experience has given him a better understanding for the skills students will need to be successful. And he certainly never considered using a 3-D printer to make face shields. The situation is now making him consider the importance of seeing things they produce as having a value.

The district is also helping make fabric face masks. Superintendent Chip Buckwell said two teachers have been making masks, and the district has ordered some materials to help. The masks are intended for employees involved with meal delivery who are out in the community.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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