Lawrence Township asked for help and the school district stepped up to answer the call.
School district officials on May 18 presented the township with 150 face shields that had been produced using one of the district’s 3D printers.
Lana Mueller, Lawrence Township Public Schools operations manager, said the district set about the task of making the face shields after municipal manager Kevin Nerwinski requested them for township workers, who will be returning to a full-day schedule after Memorial Day (the building will remain closed to the public).
Nerwinski said he initially got the idea from a resident (Robert Dember) who told him in a Facebook message about a Pennsylvania school district that was making face shields with a 3D printer. He suggested that the same could be done in Lawrence.
Nerwinski said that when he made the decision to continue operations at town hall, he recalled Dember’s idea and contacted Andrew Zuckerman, assistant superintendent of schools, to find out if it was possible to partner with the LTPS and use a 3D printer to make face shields for township workers.
Nerwinski said that Zuckerman was “all for the idea,” and he connected him with Kristin Burke, the LTPS technology supervisor and Karen Rubenstein, a technology and robotics teacher at Lawrence Intermediate School who works with the 3D Printer.
The two then worked with Jack Oakley, township director of emergency management, who was able to get her the coding to print the face shields.
“Karen then did the work, Kristen involved the students who wrote messages to go inside each face shield pack, and the rest is history,” Nerwinski said.
Nerwinski said that the delivery was timely, because workers are going back full-time next week. “Each of our employees will have one at their work station when they come to work next Tuesday.”
He said that the face shields will not be used by the township’s first responders, who have their own certified PPEs. “They will be worn by our municipal employees during the day to help protect them and others from spreading the virus.”
Nerwinski added: “Our municipality has remained fully operational during this pandemic. Our departments worked in shifts to maximize the ability to socially distance from one another but continue to provide the services that our community expects… The face shield along with a mask provide a very effective means to reduce the spread of the virus.”
According to Mueller, it takes 27 hours for the 3D printer to make 20 masks. The Lawrence Township Education Foundation funded a 3-D printer for Lawrence Intermediate School, Lawrence Middle School and Lawrence High Schools in the 2013-2014 school year. The schools educate students in grades 4-12.
“In difficult times, members of our community always find meaningful ways to make a positive difference,” Nerwinski said. “Whether it is food donations to our senior residents, residents organizing to the Front Line Appreciation Group to fundraise to provide various ways to support our front line workers fighting providing care to those battling the virus, or a Red Cross Blood Drive, we rise to meet the challenge. This community has a lot to be proud of.”