A clear barrier to COVID-19: Academy installs Plexiglas shields across campus

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Plexiglas barriers have been installed in classrooms across the Air Force Academy to help shield cadets and faculty from the coronavirus. 

In all, 800 Plexiglas shields have been mounted in classrooms and common areas across the campus since July.

“The dean of the faculty and the Academy at-large bought a significant amount of materiel to make sure Fairchild Hall was safe for cadets and faculty,” said Chief Master Sgt. Sean Milligan, the dean of faculty’s senior enlisted manager. "The health and safety of everyone remains a top institutional priority.”

Cadets have assigned seating in classrooms and use the same desk or computers for each class session, said Tech. Sgt. Aimee Grills, a lab manager in the school’s civil engineer department who helped order the barriers.

Grills said the Plexiglas shields in classrooms are fitted between desks to separate cadets from their faculty. The barriers are also installed in common areas across the campus including McDermott Library, the Registrar’s Office and the Main Exchange Shoppette in Fairchild Hall.

The shields “encourage staff to return to work and teach in person when able by helping them feel comfortable and safe,” Grills said.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Academy’s superintendent, said one of his goals is eradicating COVID-19 from the base. He and other school officials will continue to work closely with the city of Colorado Springs, the state of Colorado and the Defense Department to develop methods to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is to graduate the class of 2021 and set ourselves up to graduate the classes of ’22, ’23 and ’24,” he said earlier this month.

Restrictions and guidelines to keep cadets and faculty healthy include mandatory facemasks, a ban on all tours, large gatherings and sightseeing at the base. The Academy remains closed to the public.

In August, Col. Brian Hartless, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing -- the Academy’s host unit -- extended the public health emergency at the base through Nov. 11.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been 8,184,788, confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 219,497 deaths related to the disease in the U.S. as of Oct. 22.

That same day, the state of Colorado reported there have been 89,245 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 2,220 deaths related to the disease.