Virginia school district prints face masks for healthcare workers

Virginia school district prints face masks for healthcare workers
The only sound inside the Botetourt Technical Education Center is the whir of 3D printers. (Source: WDBJ)

BOTETOURT Co., (WDBJ) - A Virginia school district is stepping-in to help healthcare workers get the protection they need.

The only sound inside the Botetourt Technical Education Center is the whir of 3D printers.

“I thought that we could help out,” BTEC Teacher Chris Balthis said.

The school is using its 3D printers to make headgear for healthcare professionals.

It is part of an initiative in the Roanoke Valley called 3D Printed PPE that’s working to get facemasks into the hands of those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So far we’ve made about 53 and we hope that it helps the people who need it in the community,” Balthis said.

Balthis helped bring the initiative to BTEC. He and other educators said they’re happy to be giving back.

“To be able to make that difference at the right moment when they need them feels really, really good,” BTEC Teacher Kurtis Kennedy said.

They each take shifts to help program the printers. Then nine hours later there’s a fresh batch.

The masks will then be dropped off at Carilion Clinic where the hospital will add a disposable piece of plastic to the reusable 3D-printed piece.

“This is going to be big, these masks will probably be in the Carilion infrastructure for a long time and if this ever happens again now we know how to do it,” Kennedy said.

It’s an investment in time and resources that the school district says is worth every second and cent.

“As a community we are all in this together and we want to help out as much as we can” Botetourt County Supervisor of Career & Technical Education Mike Ketron said.

Printing a piece of hope that together the Roanoke Valley will all get through this soon.

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