Introduction: School Cafeteria Plexiglass Partitions for Covid Safety
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This plexiglass partition was built for Butler Catholic School in Butler PA! It was designed and constructed by BCS parents in preparation of going back to school in the fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students had to leave school in March and finish the 2019-2020 school year at home, so they were eager to return to the school.
We were looking for a safe way for the students to eat their lunches in the cafeteria with their friends and that is how this plexiglass partition was born!
This pocket friendly design can be used in any setting - it does not need to be a school only! It can be used in a church, store, home, or really anywhere! Easy to build and the sizes can be adjusted for any need.
The estimated time to complete 1 of these from start to finish would be about 1.5 to 2 hours. If you do not need to paint or cut, completion time would be 20 to 30 minutes. Additional partitions could be built much quicker after a good cadence is begun and supplies are ready to go.
3 adults would be needed to do a full start to finish project.
These are the supplies needed to build 1 - 8" partition. The size can be adjusted depending on your need - just change the size of your plexiglass and 2" x 4"s.
1 - 2'x8' sheet of Plexiglass OR 1 - 4'x8" piece of Plexiglass
2 - 2"x4"x8' pieces of lumber (for studs at the lumber yard - do not need treated)
1 - 1.25"x1.25"x4' piece of lumber
1 - Gallon of semi-gloss paint
1 - 1 HP / 6 gallon air compressor with hose
1 - HVLP cup sprayer
4 - 2.5" to 3" deck screws
5 - 4" bolts - Size 7/16
5 - 7/16 washers
5 - 7/16 nuts
1 - Cordless drill with 7/16 bit
1 - Impact drill with 7/16 head
1 - 7/16 wrench
2 - saw horses
1 - 8" banquet table
3 - Adults
1 - Tape Measure
1 - Tarp
1 - Table Saw with 200+ teeth blade (to cut Plexiglass if needed)
1 - Hand sander (depending on the condition of your lumber)
Step 1: Gather Tools & Purchase Supplies
Gather all the tools required and purchase the supplies at a local hardware or home improvement store. We were able to purchase all the supplies at 1 store.
Step 2: Cut Lumber
Before you start, lay your tarp down and set up your saw horses.
Depending on the size of the partition needed, you may need to cut the lumber. We were building 8" partitions so we did not need to cut the 2'x4's.
We did need to cut the 1.25"x1.25"x4' into 4 pieces. Each was cut to a 12" piece that will be the side legs to support the partition on the table.
Step 3: Sand Lumber
Depending on the condition of the lumber you purchased, you may need or want to sand the lumber to a smooth finish. We used a hand sander with a medium sanding disc to smooth any rough sections of the lumber, as well as smooth the edges of the 1.25" edges that were cut.
Step 4: Paint Lumber
This is optional, but it gives your partition a great visual look. In this case, our school colors are black and gold, so we painted the wood black.
You could brush or roll, but we chose to spray using an air compressor and HVLP gun to give a smoother finish as well as a quicker result. Staining could be an option as well!
Step 5: Cut Plexiglass
If you were only able to find a 4'x8' sheet of plexiglass, you will need to measure and cut it. Using the table saw with a 200+ tooth blade, cut the plexiglass down the middle. You will need the 3 adults to hold and guide the sheet through the saw. If you do not use a blade with 200+ teeth, the cut will not be clean and it could damage the plexiglass.
*****Leave the plastic wrap on the plexiglass glass to cut to avoid any dirt or pieces sticking to the actual sheet*****
Step 6: Attach 1.25" X 12" Pieces to the 2" X 4"
Lay the 2" x 4"s down on a flat surface. Measure 36" in from each end, and place your 1.25" pieces of wood in the middle of those measurements. Drill a hole through the 2" x 4" into the 1.25". Use your 2.5" - 3" deck screws to fast the 2 pieces of wood together.
Repeat for as many pieces of wood that you have.
You will now have 2" x 4"s with 12" 'legs' sticking out the sides that will help balance and anchor the assembled piece on the table.
Step 7: Partition Assembly
Place 2 - 2" x 4"s with legs installed on a flat surface (we used a 8' plastic table).
Place your cut to finish and plastic removed plexiglass piece between the 2 pieces of wood.
Push the 2 pieces of wood together with the plexiglass between them tightly.
You will need a person on each end holding the wood together (or clamps if not enough people).
At this point, you will need to measure at what increments you will install your bolts - based on your need. We installed 5 bolts on an 8 foot partition - 1 on each end, and 1 at 2', 4', and 6'.
Drill the holes on each end of the wood, and put install the bolts with washers on both ends & nut on the back side. Using an impact drill and wrench, tighten the bolts onto the nut until tight without digging into the wood. Continue to repeat until you have all bolts tightened.
Your assembly is now complete! It will stand on it's own without any wobbling or risk of falling.
OPTIONAL: In case your bolts stick out too far, you can install rubbed covers to go over the bolts to cover them.
Step 8: Place Partition Where It Is Needed
It is now time to place your partition where it is needed. In our case, we are using them in our school cafeteria on 8' plastic tables. This allows the kids to eat safely while distancing.
Remember to wipe the plexiglass clean in case it collected any sawdust from drilling!