Clear desk barriers could be new normal in school districts across metro

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Desk barriers are catching the eyes of school district decision makers in Kansas and Missouri.

As schools prepare for students in the fall, one local company is making sure children can learn in the safest environment possible.

InStore Design Displays, located in the Northland, designed and manufactured a desk barrier prototype in less than a week. The clear square box with only three sides could be new normal in school districts across metro.

“It’s something personal that’s specifically in their space,” InStore Design Displays Senior Account Director Shana Ryan said. “So when a child sits down they don’t feel restricted. They’re not playing with the mask. They can actually focus on their school work and see their teacher.”

In March, IDD made switch to brainstorm, design and manufacture personal protective equipment, according to Ryan.

Now, their focus is helping students safely get back in the classroom.

“They still want you to have the face-to-face image and understanding that they’re available, but they want to protect their staff,” Ryan said.

IDD partnered with the Blue Valley School District and installed custom hanging barriers. The 3-by-6-foot Plexiglas shields are currently in the front offices at all 35 buildings.

“Give the receptionist a clean long area that was covered,” Ryan said.

Blue Valley’s facilities and operations director said it’s part of the district preparing facilities for the start of school.

And Blue Valley isn’t the only one.

Ryan said Kansas City Public Schools is looking to buy 20,000 desk barriers for their students. Fort Leavenworth is testing them out, too.

“I think they will be happy with something like this, not just social distancing,” Ryan said. “I think parents are worried about social distancing because they’re kids, they’re really not going to social distance.

As a mom to a metro student, herself, she believes the desk dividers and face shield combo with give schools the best shot at not spreading the coronavirus.

“They stretch so they can fit,” Ryan said about the face shields, “and they can be wiped down whereas these masks are disposable, they’ll be thrown away.”

Ryan said they expect KCPS to make a final decision on the desk barriers Wednesday.

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