Former Syracuse chemistry teacher designs ‘talkable’ mask for teachers

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(WSYR-TV) — A science teacher has pondered the question for months, how can you make masks more comfortable without undermining the effectiveness of the mask? Now, she has a solution.

New Yorkers have worn masks almost everywhere they’ve gone for the past few months. People may have gotten used to wearing a face-covering in public, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more comfortable. 

Sally Mitchell, a former Syracuse chemistry teacher, said, “No matter what, when I would try and speak, it would suck into my mouth. So, I was like chewing it when I was trying to talk.”

Sally Mitchell used to teach science at East Syracuse-Minoa high school, but now she is downstate in the Rye City School District. After months of experimenting, Mitchell has finally come up with a top-tier mask design that makes it easier to talk.

“One wire is all you need, and the whole point is you don’t want to hit it when you’re making it and pleating down the sides with your sewing machine. So, I locked it into place right here, and then it just poofs it out, and it just creates that space. It’s so simple,” Mitchell said.

It creates a sort of air pocket that allows you to talk freely, but yet it still protects you and others from the virus.

“This makes it tight, this pinch down, this pleating, you’ll see how tight it is, and this tuck. That little tuck under it, see how it just really makes it fit your face,” Mitchell said. “And I’ll sit here and talk to you the whole time, you can hear me clearly, and you see it’s not sucking into my mouth.”

If you’re going to try and make your own, Mitchell says it’s important to make a piece that fits around your nose and suggests using aluminum flat wire. 

“I bought aluminum flat wire, and I cut it so I had spaces on the side so I don’t hit it when I sew up the sides. That works the best because it’s just like the nose piece that pinches down,” Mitchell said. “That nose piece is really important by the way. If you make it with round wire, it doesn’t fit as well as flat wire.”

With Governor Cuomo allowing schools to reopen, this mask design could be a game-changer for teachers who have to talk all day. 

“Somebody mentioned my mask, and now everyone wants it,” Mitchell said. 

She’s worried some students won’t wear masks when in school because they aren’t comfortable, but she says her mask design could change all of that. Protecting students and teachers all along the way. 

“I would rather go to school and stay in school,” Mitchell said. “Teachers want to go back more than anybody in the world, honestly. So, let’s do it right.”

To learn how to make Mitchell’s “talkable” mask, watch her YouTube video below.

To find out more about Central New York’s school districts’ reopening plans, click here.

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