With the return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, Highmark of Fort Wayne, a designer of exhibit systems, has begun to produce safety shields and partitions for students and educators.

Made of polycarbonate, the products allow for dry-erase marker use and easy cleanup, the company said in a news release. Polycarbonate offers more durability than acrylic plastic and creates smooth edges for better handling and safety, within the classroom, according to the company. The modular shields allow two, four, six or eight people to share a table with the shields acting as a barrier to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 23 million worldwide and killed close to 800,000.

“All of us at Highmark are working parents, and we share the same concerns,” Highmark President Debbie Parrott said in the news release. “We also believe that face-to-face in-person engagement is so important for learning – be it in a school, community, or business setting. I’d love to think that Highmark is playing a small role in helping schools create an extra layer of protection for students, faculty, and administrators as they physically go back to school, which we’re excited about.”

The company employs 21, with its plant at 8343 Clinton Park Drive.

Highmark offers a range of customizable shields based on schools’, universities’, and other learning/training environment needs. Its designs are created by first visiting the institution, understanding their needs, and then developing CAD product sketches for standard or custom shields. Once approved by the institution, the shields are then cut on Highmark’s CNC routers, packaged, delivered, and when necessary, installed. This process can take up to two weeks for large orders such as schools or institutions from start to finish or as short as three days for personal orders offering lifetime warranty, according to the company.

Matt Andrews, the vice president of sales, said in the news release, “The individual personal shields — which we’re calling the iSHIELD Portable — are lightweight, fold easily, and have handles so students and teachers can easily carry and deploy them right at their desks, lunch tables, or wherever they’re working. We have a variety of table/surface partitions that create sectioned, spatially-distanced work areas for multiple people, an. They can remain stationary at a space or be moved easily where needed. Also, a favorite of teachers is our rolling shield – essentially an 8’ tall clear partition window that is easily framed with our aluminum tubing and has wheels, offering the flexibility to move about and allowing an unobstructed view from teacher to student via the clear see-through screen.”

Highmark has sold over 1,000 safety shields and partitions. Due to COVID-19, production has been completely shifted to shields and partitions, offering Highmark a new opportunity to serve schools and the community. Prices range from $106 for a 2- or 4-person partition to $279 for a 6-person partition. The affordably and design have made it possible for many schools and institutions to attain a customizable shield fit for their needs, according to the company.

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