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Schools asked to donate science goggles for NHS to use as face shields | Education


Schools across England are being asked to donate science goggles and other apparatus to the NHS due to a shortage of protective equipment for doctors dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

The Guardian has heard from a number of schools and teachers who are responding to urgent messages from NHS trusts that need face shields as they deal with a growing number of cases.

NHS England and the government have made a major effort since the weekend to address concerns about protective gear. The army has been called in to help deliver millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) since the weekend and 200 different hospitals will receive extra kit overnight on Tuesday.

However, doctors are warning that deliveries are not arriving soon enough, with groups representing frontline staff saying doctors could quit because of fears over inadequate protective equipment.

Symptoms are defined by the NHS as either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.

If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.

If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Staying at home means you should:

  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home

You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Source: NHS England on 23 March 2020

Unsworth academy in Greater Manchester has donated more than 50 pairs of science goggles since the outbreak. The school’s principal, Sue Armstrong, said: “We are delighted to be able to help the NHS at a time when we all need to pull together. Schools across the trust are doing all they can to support national services during these unprecedented times and will continue to strive to meet the needs of our students, families and wider school communities.”

Lindsay Skinner, the headteacher at St James school in Exeter, said: “On Sunday, my best friend, who is a paediatrician, contacted me to ask if my school had any PPE. I said that we had goggles and glasses in science and technology. I hadn’t imagined that they would be of much use as they are secondary school quality, not medical grade quality. However, she put me in contact with Lowri Harris, the lead south-west GP appraiser who was very clear: school-quality PPE is better than no PPE.”

She added: “She collected just shy of 200 items from us on Monday. When she saw them, she almost cried. She then delivered them to eight different GP surgeries, including her own.”

Skinner said she knew of two heads and two trust leads who have donated their school PPE to support health workers across the NHS.

Deaths by NHS trust

Huntington school in York sent “well over 100 pairs of goggles” and “as many rubber gloves as we can get hold of” to York hospital after a plea from a parent who works there as a nurse, Schools Week reported. The headteacher, John Tomsett, said it “does feel like war effort stuff” but the school was keen to help the community any way it could.

David Weston, the chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, a UK charity that works to raise awareness of the importance of professional development for teachers, said: “The first school I heard giving equipment was Huntington in York, who donated a whole bunch of personal protective equipment. There are loads of people saying they are grateful for it. I wonder if there is a central approach to doing this,” he said.

Another south London hospital has also asked schools for supplies, the Guardian understands. Newton Abbot college, an 11 to 19 secondary school in Devon, has donated goggles from its science labs to local hospitals.

It comes as doctors threaten to quit as the crisis reaches what is expected to be its most dangerous period, with medical groups saying their members are being expected to take unacceptable risks.


Dr Rinesh Parmar, the chair of the Doctors’ Association UK, which represents grassroots medics, said: “The longer this epidemic goes on for, if doctors feel that there is a widespread lack of personal protective equipment, then some doctors may feel they have no choice but to give up the profession they love.”

The Royal College of Nursing, which represents Britain’s 400,000 nurses, also signalled its deep unease with the serious shortages of PPE and said the issue could compel nurses to choose between their jobs and their safety.



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