Dive Brief:

  • In a Tuesday announcement, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said career and technical education programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment and other medical supplies purchased with federal funds to healthcare providers, hospitals and public health agencies during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Healthcare CTE programs purchase PPE and other equipment though federal grants, and when educators requested to donate these supplies to aid in coronavirus response, DeVos said allowing flexibility in this case was a “no brainer.”
  • Equipment that can be donated or loaned under the flexibility includes gloves, masks, face shields, gowns, ventilators and 3D printers.

Dive Insight:

In addition to donating PPE, educators and students have already taken advantage of 3D printers to make a variety of supplies and equipment. Massachusetts high school senior Emmanuel Cuevas, whose parents are doctors, used his personal 3D printer to make face shields for hospitals. And in Palo Alto, California, a group of teens are using a student-run makerspace’s two 3D printers to produce face shields. As of April 8, the students had already made 50 shields, with a goal of eventually reaching 200,000. 

However, not every student has ready access to a makerspace right now — let alone a 3D printer in their home. But administrators in districts where schools have these tools can still make use of them. In Livingston, New Jersey, for example, 3D printers and sewing machines were removed from schools and placed in the homes of staff and students to adhere to social distancing, with a parent volunteer starting a GoFundMe page to purchase materials.

Even without this technology, educators can still get students involved in productive activities that also facilitate social-emotional skills like empathy. In one example, students in Utah are writing letters of encouragement to residents of assisted living centers, many of whom can’t have visitors. 

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