Ohio company’s sneeze guards help Flint schools welcome back students

LumAware donated 1,000 sneeze guards to the district to make sure students could return to their classrooms sooner rather than later.
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The lack of an added layer of protection to keep students safe in their classroom delayed Flint Community Schools return to the classroom last month.

The District planned to bring students back face-to-face Monday, February 22nd. But, it changed plans after the Superintendent said they didn’t have enough sneeze guards for every student.

At a school board meeting last week, the District announced the shipments are in and the schools are ready for every student starting this Monday, March 22nd.

So who made it happen? A company located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

ABC12 aired a story February 22nd, the day students in Flint were supposed to be back face-to-face, sharing the teachers union’s concern about rushing to return without their desired safety measures in place.

That night, a company that makes sneeze guards, saw the story and emailed ABC12′s Ann Pierret asking how they could help.

“You know, this time last year, we had to pivot our organization,” LumAware President Larry Johnson said.

Johnson explained the manufacturer of safety technology pivoted to creating L-shaped sneeze guards. They already had some of the materials, he said they just needed some insight. So they worked with local educators to find out what would work best.

“We wanted to make sure that whether it was a 7-year- old using it or a 17-year-old using it, they would be able to see the teacher and a teacher will be able to see them,” Johnson explained.

He described the final product as sturdy, pointing out students can’t break them with a pencil or protractor.

Plus, he said they’re portable. Each sneeze guard is equipped with handles, allowing the students moving from class to class to take the added protection with them, through the hallway.

It’s something they thought Flint Schools could use. So, Pierret forwarded that email LumAware sent to the teachers union who got it to Superintendent Anita Steward.

“The superintendent said ‘Hey well how many are you willing to give us?’; and I believe the question was, ‘What do you need?’” Johnson explained.

She asked for a thousand sneeze guards; and they donated all of them.

ABC12 caught their delivery truck driving away from the district Monday morning.

“We just want to do our small part, make sure they’re getting back in the classroom,” Johnson explained. “So again, goosebumps as I’m sitting here talking to you Ann, but I really -- we’re, we’re really happy, really inspired to be able to give back and help out where we can.”

The donated sneeze guards are expected to be installed this week in 4th through 12th grade classrooms ahead of next Monday’s return.

Younger kids returned to class this week.

Students are on a hybrid model, with kids learning in-person two days a week and at home the rest of the time.

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