Saturday, 04 July 2020

School scales down face mask production for now

SHIPLAKE College has now produced more than 1,000 plastic face shields for health workers.

Staff and pupils have been making the protective devices by hand at the independent school’s design technology laboratory for several weeks.

They intended to use an automatic laser cutter but had to resort to jigsaws when the device broke down and couldn’t be repaired because of the lockdown.

The shields have been sent in boxes of 50 to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, GP surgeries, care homes and funeral directors
A B Walker and Tomalin & Son.

Demand has decreased so the school has reduced its production but has ordered more materials following a fundraising campaign among staff and parents in case it needs to step it up again.

Public relations manager Katherine Green, who is helping to run the project, said: “We’re still making them but at a much lower level as demand is fairly low, which I think is down to improvements in the wider supply chain. Hospitals and other institutions are having less trouble sourcing protective equipment through the usual channels.

“We’re all proud to have played our part and are still making a contribution but not on the same scale as when we started. We’re still working by hand until the components for the cutter arrive.”

Meanwhile, Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning has been thanked for its part in producing more than 19,000 face shields for frontline staff across the South-East.

It is one of 25 “manufacturing partners” in a project led by Leighton Park School in Reading to make masks for both NHS and private carers.

Harvey McGough, head of DT, has been producing head straps using a laser cutter and computer-aided designs sent by Leighton Park, which also donated materials for the first few batches produced at Shiplake.

Dozens of volunteers then boxed them up and sent them to their counterparts in Reading, who attached the plastic screen.

A fundraising campaign to keep production rolling has raised more than £27,000.

Mr McGough said: “We’ve established a sustainable system for producing the components and are still ploughing ahead.

“There’s a bit less urgency in the process. When we started out it was very much hand to mouth with people needing supplies as quickly as possible, whereas now we’re working more to order.

“The support we’ve received from the school community has been amazing.”

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