A Minneapolis company is producing what it says is the first bullet-resistant portable room divider designed specifically for rapid deployment in schools.
Versare Solutions on Wednesday unveiled its Portable Shield Partition, which the maker says “can withstand multiple impacts by .44 magnum and 9 mm ammunition.”
The company calls the partition a first-of-its-kind product after its research turned up “nothing specifically for schools of this style,” marketing manager Didier Foley said.
“There are cubicles for governments, workplaces and banks, but nothing specifically for schools.”
Foley said company leaders had some hesitation about rolling out a product that overtly addresses the problem of school shootings.
“It’s a sensitive topic,” said Foley, who has a three-year-old daughter and a brother still in high school. “It’s something that is needed, but not something that we wanted (to produce).”
Foley said the folding dividers are visually indistinguishable from the ones Versare has been making for years without the added protection, to avoid having them “look like an armored window. We didn’t want to (create) that level of fear and concern in the classroom.”
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Versare said one of the two layers of traditional honeycomb backing on the partition is replaced with a layer of ballistic material, which makes the product “functional and fearless,” a post on the company website reads.
Teachers can use the divider as they usually would — posting papers or art projects and creating private spaces within a room.
Or the rolling partitions — which stand six feet eight inches tall and can be collapsed down to 33 inches wide — can be set off to the side until needed.
“It can be set up in eight to 10 seconds” and reach up to nearly 20 feet wide, Foley said. “Ideally, it’s already being used to separate space. Or it can be sitting in a corner. Slide it out and put it out.”