When the pandemic first hit, headlines about mask shortages were everywhere.
From hospitals to schools to retailers and first-responders, it seemed like no one could get their hands on them.
As the school year fast approaches, Central Texas mask makers that helped fill the void in March and April are once again seeing a sharp increase in sales.
“I’ve done 40 percent of my orders since July 1st,” said Suzi Elnaggar, who runs Waco Masks for Hope. “I’ve had some people say this is for their child for school, or it’s for themselves as a teacher.”
Suzi custom designs children's facial coverings for about $10 a piece. She says it's important grade schoolers get one that fits properly.
“If they kind of fit really well, then it’s comfortable. There are also other options, so some will get irritated with the loops around the ears, so ties are better, or toggles,” she said.
Local districts are fully aware that when students are allowed back on campus, not every one of them may come sporting a mask.
It's why Waco ISD will soon get more than 170,000 masks from the state. That figure includes both disposable and reusable coverings. Close to 50,000 are designed for younger students.
“We do have multiple vendors we can reorder from, if need be,” Rhiannon Settles said on Tuesday.
As the district's Director of Health Services, Settles says it's important parents get their kids familiarized with wearing masks for longer periods of time.
“Have them practice wearing it just so when they do get back into school, it’s not uncomfortable or awkward,” she said.
Midway ISD has stockpiled roughly 95,000 masks for students and staff.
Killen ISD, the largest Central Texas district, has received nearly 475,000 masks, which include 74,000 adult cloth versions, 286,000 adult disposables, and another 122,000 disposables in child sizes.
Suzi says she plans to keep sewing as long as there's demand.
"As long as they're needed, I'll be here," she said.
So far, she estimates she's produced between 800 to 1,000 using her home studio. Most of the proceeds go to local nonprofits.
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