As school districts across North Alabama adjust to in-person learning during a pandemic, one company based out of Madison got innovative to help stop the spread of coronavirus in schools.
And it comes in the form of a cubicle.
Six weeks ago, Bob Cuffe and his business partners created Learning Cubicles. Cuffe wanted to find a way to keep kids in the classroom safe by utilizing Plexiglass but in a more effective way.
"All of us around here are very sensitive about our kids having proper care, so we thought what can we do to contribute our part?," Cuffe said.
Many districts in North Alabama are choosing to help protect students with Plexiglass desk shields. However, Cuffe believes it is not enough protection.
"I wasn't quite sure how they would work," Cuffe said. "So we put our brain to it and we thought we came up with a much better solution."
For Cuffe, the solution is learning cubicles. Cuffe describes it as an extra level of protection on top of masking and social distancing.
"The cubicles do a really good containing pathogens and we simulate that with smoke and whatever does escape is sucked up into the ventilation system," Cuffe said.
He said it is not just protecting students, but faculty as well. Unlike desk shields, Cuffe said the cubicles provide a real barrier between the teacher and student.
"It protects the teacher if they are standing, talking to the student," Cuffe said. "So there's constantly a barrier all away around the student."
He said it is easy to clean and allows students to still hear the teacher clearly. He said he is hoping classrooms across the country catch on.
"Everybody's got to do their part with this crisis going on," Cuffe said.
The product has been filed with the U.S. Patent Office and is awaiting approval.