SCHOOL technology staff have set up an impromptu production line making protective equipment for the NHS and other key workers at risk of the coronavirus.

Teachers and technicians at Carmel College, Darlington, are using the school holidays to make up to 600 safety visors, designed to protect frontline staff in hospitals.

They are using polypropylene donated by Primex Plastics, based in Newton Aycliffe, and have adapted a free pattern to ensure the fastest production and least amount of waste.

Leah Bettney, who sourced the plastic, said: “As a department we feel very proud to be in a position to be able provide vital PPE to essential key workers, who are working in positions of risk.

"As a school and a community we must do what we can to help and we are lucky to have the resources and support to play our part in this.”

Teacher Mark Holt developed the mask design, which is based on a free version offered by Kitronik.

The visors are now in full production by the whole department, including colleagues Emily Brown, Michael Clarke and Stephanie Pinnock.

They are able to make up to 10 an hour, and are hoping to make at least 600 visors during the school holidays.

Schools in the trust also recently donated hundreds of pairs of goggles and thousands of pairs of gloves to frontline health staff.

The school has been in contact with James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, which is happy to take hundreds of visors for its staff.

There are also plans to supply local doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies and care homes, front line settings not normally supplied with PPE.

Carmel College principal Mike Shorten said: “This really is a wonderful effort by our staff. We looked at making the visors but didn’t have the materials on site. Leah approached a number of companies and Primex were very supportive in providing a roll of polypropylene.

“The headbands are laser-cut and able to be sterilised and used again and again, but the visors need regular replacement. They are made from 240-micron acetate binding covers we bought from Viking Office Supplies.

"At the moment the staff can make 10 an hour; that’s over 50 a day, which is hard work but incredible.”

Chief executive of the Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust (formerly Carmel Education Trust) Maura Regan added: “I am so proud of our staff, who, as key workers, are themselves on the frontline. Until the holidays started they were teaching five lessons a day live, on line and have now chosen to come in during the Easter break to make the visors, which really is going above and beyond.

“As an educational trust we pride ourselves on being at the heart of every community we serve and we are only too pleased to do anything we can to support the NHS, doctors and frontline workers in all areas to help keep them safe from this terrible virus.”