OrchKids, a music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for Baltimore City youth, was looking for a personal protective equipment (PPE) solution that would allow them to safely deliver instrumental music instruction amid the pandemic. Currently, in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, they are offering online programming only, so OrchKids contacted Shield Pals, a Maryland-based PPE manufacturer and retailer, to help brainstorm and develop solutions.

The flute, for example, is considered a “super spreader” due to how one blows air through the instrument, so creative solutions to keep both students and staff safe during lessons on a variety of musical instruments, from tubas to flutes to bassoons and more, was paramount. One solution that came out of the collaboration was “bell covers” to cover various woodwind and brass instruments’ bells to dampen air flow that may otherwise increase the risk of air droplets potentially containing the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading from student to teacher.

In addition to the bell covers, OrchKids procured Shield Pals face shields for their music teachers and program staff, while prototypes were developed for specialty face shields with drapes that allow students to play their individual instruments while staying safe and keeping others safe around them. To achieve this, Shield Pals designers took several photos and measurements of OrchKids team member Milos Tosic, who sat for a fitting while playing several different instruments.

“We are eager to bring students back into programming amid COVID-19 in a safe and effective way,” Raquel Gilmer, executive director of OrchKids, said. “Working with Shield Pals to create PPE for our instructors and students will allow us to be ready to pivot back to in-person music instruction when the time comes. OrchKids was able to successfully move all our programming online within 10 days of the school closures announcement last March, because we had done our research and came up with the right plan. Shield Pals is a valuable partner in researching and planning a way back to seeing our students in person — something we are all eager to do.”

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