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Aledo ISD maintenance worker Danny Gabbert holds up one of many doorstops he made so students and staff in the district won’t have to use their hands to open doors when going throughout the buildings. This is one of several projects, including touch-free sanitizing stations from the student engineering department, designed to help make school safer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aledo ISD

The family that works together best fights COVID-19 together.

At least that’s the thinking behind family that calls itself the Aledo school district. Several employees and students have joined forces to get creative in the battle to keep school going and keep folks safe.

The engineering class, for example, is creating and distributing touchless hand sanitizing stations for students to use at the high school.

“Our students faced many changes and adversities this year. As problem-solving engineers, students focused on ways to improve our school environment through project-based learning,” CTE Engineering Instructor Kyle Christensen said. “Students worked in design teams to design, prototype, test and evaluate a hands-free sanitizer station. It was an inspiring way to begin the year.”

In addition to this project, the school’s robotics team manufactured personal protection equipment for local first responders. The students designed, built and delivered face shields to front-line workers.

“Many administrators and teachers have supported our students to be involved with the community and district,” Christensen said.

Elsewhere, the construction department created doorstops to keep students, teachers, etc. from having to open door handles.

“It was the idea of our director of construction and facilities Tyler Boswell. Students were coming back to the classroom after online learning, and Tyler said we needed make 100 doorstops to try to prevent the spread of germs from door handles,” noted maintenance worker Danny Gabbert. “It would be cheaper and faster if I could make them rather than order them.”

Some teachers/coaches even came forward to drive bus routes when some of the regular drivers were in quarantine.

Christensen said the idea for the sanitizing stations came through conversations with CTE Director Mary Smith.

“We sought out many opportunities for solution-focused projects. Obviously, improving ways to safely return to school in the midst of COVID was at the top of our priority list,” he said. “Having stations throughout the school was part of the high school’s plan to increase availability of hand sanitizer to students.

“However, when using the stations, students would have had to use their hands to activate the pumps. This wasn’t effective in terms of reducing contact between students.”

Christensen said the school provides bottles of hand sanitizer for the hands-free models. He added there are discussions about spreading the project throughout the district.

“One of my favorite things about teaching project-based learning classes is that I am able to watch the students’ ideas come to life,” he said. “During this project, my students got excited about problem-solving through engineering, especially since the goal of this project was to create something that would be seen as incredibly important in today’s environment.

“My high school students are able to walk through the school and see the results of their hard work being utilized by students and staff. This project was important because it showed my students that they have the ability to make a difference in everyday life by utilizing engineering principles.”

For obvious reasons, Gabbert said the doorstops are used only on interior doors.

Gabbert said he makes the doorstops from 2×4 scrap lumber pieces, sanding the edges to prevent splinters.

“We are all doing our part to keep our staff and students as safe and healthy as possible,” Gabbert said.

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