Families are building “hug shields” to help kids maintain physical contact with their grandparents during the coronavirus pandemic.
The shields feature a long and wide sheet of plastic with glove slots — when two people want to hug, they simply stand on each side of the plastic, and reach into corresponding gloves.
While there is a protective barrier between everyone involved, the shields help people still feel an embrace during a time where Americans are being told to social distance to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Rose Gagnon, of Rockford, Illinois, was emotional when her granddaughter, Carly Marinaro, built a hug shield so she could see her great-grandchildren.
The 85-year-old told WIFR that she normally sees her great-grandchildren almost every day, but because of the coronavirus, she’s had to maintain distance for more than two months.
“I wanted to cry because I couldn’t believe that this is happening — it just means a lot,” Gagnon told WIFR of Marinaro building the hug shield. “My heart felt like was going to burst. It filled my heart.”
In Riverside, California, a 10-year-old girl named Paige built a hug shield with a shower curtain, Ziploc bags, disposable plates, and a hot glue gun.
Her mother, Lindsay Okray, told KABC that she works as a nurse in a local COVID-19 unit, and she was touched by her daughter’s idea.
“She came up with the idea, she laid it out in the family room and spent multiple hours working on it,” Okray told KABC.
In Indiana, a teacher made a hug barrier so her elementary-aged students could say hi during the pandemic.
Shelby Pavelka, who teaches in Muncie, Indiana, taught children how to disinfect the barrier before and after every hug, allowing other students to safely visit after them.
“Most students ran up to my door squealing!,” Pavelka told CNN. “Then we hug a bunch of times and talk about all the things we’ve been doing. There’s usually a lot of jokes told and dance moves on display!”
She said some of her students have had a hard time with the pandemic so far, and she wanted to find a way to cheer them up.
“Many parents have shared that their student really needed this,” she said.