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.
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.
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.