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Schools Manufacture PPE

Advanced Manufacturing teachers, students produce protective equipment for healthcare workers

Cherry Creek School District teachers and students are supporting the state’s health care providers by manufacturing critical equipment that could very well save lives.

As the CCSD community joins the rest of the state, the country and the world in dealing with the COVID crisis, teachers and students have found a unique way to contribute important resources designed to make a key difference in keeping people safe and healthy.

At five sites across the district, state-of-the-art equipment that’s normally used to teach students the latest in advanced manufacturing is serving a different purpose. Even though in-person classes at Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Smoky Hill high schools and the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus are currently on hold, the fabrication labs at these schools are still in use. Advanced manufacturing teachers are working with officials from the Anschutz Medical Campus to produce components that will be used in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks designed to safeguard medical personnel at the front lines of the crisis from the COVID virus.

At Smoky Hill, students are remotely contributing to the effort, working from detailed specifications to make components at home.

“At the CCSD sites, we’re creating the headband that goes on face shields that will be used by medical staff,” said Sarah Grobbel, Assistant Superintendent for Career and Innovation. “Another producer is making the plastic component for the mask, and officials from Anschutz will manufacture the final product.”

The district’s role in manufacturing the equipment came together on a relatively short timeframe. According to Grobbel, district officials began communicating with Anschutz officials last week; within a matter of days, machines at the five sites were 3-D printing pieces for hundreds of masks.

This rapid progress came as a result of hard work and investment from partners across the district. The Cherry Creek Schools Foundation, for example, contributed money from its Emergency Relief Fund to help purchase supplies for the process; Advanced Manufacturing answered the call in coordinating school resources and equipment; and even students found a way to contribute to the effort from home.

The end result was an impressive yield of equipment in a very short time.

“Right now, we’ve been able to manufacture 500 pieces in a week,” Grobbel said. “As long as there’s a demand, we’re going to continue to print. We’re planning to keep manufacturing these pieces for at least the next month.”

This equipment could have an impact that goes far beyond the Cherry Creek School District’s 108 square miles. According to Katherine Goodman, assistant professor and associate director at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, the equipment being produced thanks to the partnership could be used as a model for the rest of the state and beyond.

“While our personal networks are mostly in the Front Range, we want to distribute statewide,” Goodman said. “Also, we are documenting this model so that other states can stand up similar efforts. Our documentation efforts will include the supply chain work to ensure materials are safe to use.”

Those looking to contribute to this effort can donate funds directly to the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund. For more information, visit

Those funds will directly aid an effort that will have important implications for the CCSD community and the entire state of Colorado. They’ll support the kind of learning that goes beyond the classroom, a brand of education that has a measurable impact on an entire community.

“We keep saying that in CCSD, Career and Technical Education is all about real-world learning,” Grobbel said. “Our students have the chance to master the design process. Our instructors have access to the latest, real-world industry standards. This is all of that plus more. Cherry Creek Schools is having a direct hand in helping our medical personnel do their life-saving work and make it through this crisis safely.”

That kind of investment is at the heart of the Cherry Creek School District’s commitment to excellence.

“This is helping our community. This is helping our health care providers,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “There are a lot of heroes who are stepping up during this crisis, and that includes our teachers. They’re producing this equipment, and that means so much for so many people.”

To support programs like these and aid students, families and our local communities please visit the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation website and read about the Cherry Creek Schools Emergency Relief Fund here

Posted 3/30/20 at 1:50 PM

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