An Ohio mother used creativity to pose a possible solution for parents anxious about sending their kids to school in the fall amid the pandemic, inventing what she calls a “virus veil” to help protect students.
In early April, as coronavirus cases began to rise across the U.S., Hilary Myers, of Columbus, Ohio, tells Yahoo Life that she drew the first sketches and began working on the virus veil for herself. Through trial and error, she set out to create something that could protect her eyes, which are a potential area for viral transmission, as well as keep her anxiety about the coronavirus at bay.
Now, with the fall school year approaching and debate continuing around whether students should resume in-person classes or stick to virtual learning, the mother of five decided to pivot her focus from making the face shield for herself to figuring out to make them her school-aged children.
Myers’ children attend Bexley City Schools in Bexley, Ohio. The school district has not yet made a determination as to whether students will return for full-time in-person learning, distance-learning or follow a hybrid plan that has half the students in school at a time, according to its website. (Although on July 2, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio schools can reopen this fall with health and safety restrictions, which include sanitizing schools, social distancing, students and staff wearing masks, along with washing and sanitizing hands.)
Related: Boy invents mask/shirt combo for kids amid COVID-19 outbreak
But, Myers says, “the politicization of masks really took the wind out of my sails.” While Ohio’s statewide mask mandate went into effect on Thursday, she still felt she needed to act.
“If people were balking at wearing a mask, they certainly weren't going to wear this. It wasn't until it seemed inevitable that my kids were going to go back to school, even though our numbers were increasing, that I really dove back into it. I began researching the best materials to use and chose a design best suited to be worn by a child for an entire school day,” she explains. “It has been time-consuming and at times maddening. I'm not a seamstress and some of the materials are quite tricky to sew. Seeing a finished product with which I was happy was a huge relief.”
Inspired by the beekeeper veil, Myers made the body of the veil from a layer of flannel and satin. The visor is made from vinyl fabric that protects the eyes while providing visibility and does not fog. There is a drawstring located at the bottom of the veil giving one easy access to eat and drink without removing the whole veil.
She even took her product for a “test drive,” wearing it out and about, and admits she received mixed reactions. “Honestly I'm most surprised when I receive a compliment. Receiving the first order was so validating. I know it looks ridiculous. I prepared my kids to be teased incessantly. I know not everyone thinks and feels the same way I do. But I am overwhelmed by all the feedback and grateful that the vast majority of it has been positive,” she says.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University tells Yahoo Life that he thinks this veil looks like a very good idea. “I would think that all and all ... it ought to provide protection comparable at the very least to a face shield and maybe also comparable to a mask,” he says. “[But] you’d need to do careful studies. I applaud the ingenuity.”
Yahoo Life Medical Contributor Dr. Dara Kass agrees that the hood seems like an interesting idea and that more tests should be done.
“Unfortunately if you open it up and feed yourself food and your hands are dirty, you do violate the protection of the hood,” she explains. “And there is a difference between wearing a mask and wearing a hood over your head. So I don’t know what beekeepers do for ventilation, but this would have to be evaluated as a product to make sure that it’s not affecting the total ventilation of the person.”
Myers, who plans to have her kids wear it to school in the fall, says that while co-parenting five kids during a pandemic has been a challenge, things could have been much worse. "We know people who are really suffering as a result of the pandemic,” she says. “Whether it be job loss, illness, or even death so I personally feel extremely fortunate that our household has not been affected in that way.”
Myers says that while it’s not clear what will happen with the upcoming school year, her family is “like a lot of other families who are navigating this new world one day at a time.”
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.
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