Life in Byfield has not been the same since students departed for March break on Friday, March 6. The familiar sights and sounds of spring on campus—students playing games on dorm lawns, faculty teaching classes at picnic tables outdoors, and students, faculty, and staff enjoying a BBQ on the first warm day of the year—have been replaced by Zoom calls and an eerie quiet as our community did not resume on-campus activities this spring.
As the COVID-19 public health crisis escalated this spring and it became apparent that PPE for frontline workers was in short supply, Governor’s science teachers Jamie Brandt and Marcus Soule thought about how to put Governor’s resources to work to help those on the frontlines of COVID-19. Last month, Mr. Brandt watched a “Smarter Every Day” video which prompted him to contact Mr. Soule, who was making ear savers for medical professionals on the laser cutter in his engineering classroom. The result of that conversation, and some discussion with both Sarah Leadbeater at Newburyport High School and MakeItLabs in Nashua, New Hampshire, both of whom had organized efforts already, lead them to start fabricating face shields and ear savers with the school’s 3D printers and laser cutters with the full support and help of CFO Chris Wejchert and Director of Facilities Tom Woodruff.
“After I watched the ‘Smarter Every Day’ video I immediately thought, ‘We can do this. What can I do to get people to start making face shields with the resources we have here on the Govs campus, within our community, and the greater North Shore area?’ And then I started to get really excited,” recalls Mr. Brandt.
Next came the step of setting up a space to gather everything that they created and collected, all with the goal of using the Govs campus as a central location of printing, cutting, and collecting items critical to the fight against COVID-19 in the greater Newbury area. Associate Director of Athletics and Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Wotton P’14, ‘17 stepped in to transform the athletic training room into a hub where all printed materials come in, are assembled, bagged, and organized for distribution to those in need.
Mr. Wotton said, “The athletic training room gave us the ability to have four to five people working together while socially distanced. Tom Woodruff ordered everything he could and Patrick Norton at New England Biolabs in Ipswich donated the rest. It is great to see Govs faculty and staff here putting together face shields and bagging them for distribution. It’s a true community effort!”
Since launching Newbury Fighting COVID, the team has been running 3D printers and laser cutters 24 hours a day. In the first week, they supplied materials to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Nevins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Methuen, Massachusetts, and Osceola Regional Health Center in Sibley, Iowa.
Demand for ear savers and face shields continues to be high, so assistance in the form of material donations, 3D printers, and laser cutters from individuals, schools, and businesses in the area is critical to Newbury Fighting COVID’s ability to meet a portion of the demand. In early May, the team received a donation from Coca-Cola of PET plastic from which Mr. Soule has been cutting face shields. In addition, Mr. Brandt has been coordinating with teachers from Glen Urquhart School and Berwick Academy who are running their 3D printers. He is looking to get other schools involved. The Govs team is now coordinating distribution for Sarah Leadbetter at Newburyport High School, who had been making PPE for a couple of months already and welcomed the additional support.
In thinking about how those in the community can help, Mr. Soule said, "The biggest thing we need is to get the word out. You can help all of us by talking to people you know in healthcare, youth services, homeless shelters, nursing homes, dental offices, etc. Have them email NewburyFightingCovid@govsacademy.org for more information. Additionally, if you have the capacity to 3D print or laser cut, or wish to volunteer your time, please also contact us and we'll get to work fighting this thing together."
All ear savers and face shields that the team prints, cuts, and collects are being distributed to individuals and organizations in need of PPE for their frontline workers. Mr. Wotton is coordinating all logistics including the arrival of supplies onto campus, assembly of face shields by volunteers, and distribution of PPE to those who need them. As of mid-May, over 600 ear savers and 400 face shields had been delivered to:
● Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
● Osceola Regional Health Center
● Nevins Family of Services
● Essex County Correctional Facility
● Project Home Healthcare Services Philadelphia
● Dr. Chris White, Chiropractor
● Atlantic Orthopedics & Sports Med, Portsmouth
● Newbury Fire Department
● DrumHill Pediatrics, Chelmsford
● Lowell General Hospital Nursery
● Lahey Health Burlington, MA
● Country Center for Health and Rehabilitation
● Whittier Health
● Lawrence General Hospital
If you are interested in getting involved in the #newburyfightingcovid effort, please click here.