Waterloo, Ont. face shield manufacturer donates 750K shields for teachers across Canada
KITCHENER -- A Waterloo face shield and mask manufacturer announced Tuesday that it would be donating three quarters of a million face shields to protect teachers and educators from COVID-19.
The Canadian Shield, which was founded by the educational technology company InkSmith, says the 750,000 reusable shields are worth about $7.5 million.
As school boards across the country look ahead to the start of the school year in September, just weeks away, there is concern that schools could become a hotspot for the spread of the virus.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce was scheduled to be in Waterloo on Wednesday to accept the donation on behalf of Ontario, while conversations with other provincial and territorial ministries are ongoing.
School boards have been asked to come up with three separate plans for a return-to-school in September.
In Waterloo Region, that includes a remote model, a full return and a hybrid model that could see kids go to school for five days and then do school remotely for the next five.
Last week, Lecce said that the government was "finalizing the health protocols" for returning to school, and said that an announcement could be coming as soon as this week. The decision as to which model a particular board follows will reportedly be left with local public health officials.
During its announcement on Tuesday, the Canadian Shield launched face shields for kids, which fit smaller than the adjustable adult ones.
"While face masks can sometimes be uncomfortable for children, face shields can be a great PPE alternative, providing protection against airborne particles," a media release announcing the news in part.
The company says it has the capacity to produce some 200,000 face shields per day, and is working on its cloth and surgical mask lines to ramp up production to over 300 million per year.
The Canadian Shield is also planning to begin manufacturing isolation gowns, and hopes to be able to produce six million of those per year.
"We have invested heavily in PPE manufacturing and established reliable supply chains across Canada to ensure our nation is self-sustaining and in a position to combat any future global health crisis," CEO Jeremy Hedges is quoted in a news release.
"Our days of relying on global supply chains are over. We are proud to be part of what we see as a 'Made in Canada' movement."
Schools in Ontario first closed after March break, with students and educators scrambling to go online as COVID-19 started to spread.
There have been 38,986 cases of COVID-19 in the province since the pandemic began, including 34,741 recoveries and 2,769 deaths.