Schools are opening again in some parts of the world despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on. As governments scramble to find ways to revive the economy while keeping people safe, many imposed strict rules on social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks.
In Malaysia, everyone is required to wear face masks or pay a fine of RM1,000 ($240) if caught violating the law. While this is done for everyone’s safety, of course, it has also become a burden to the poor who can’t afford to buy new masks.
A young boy’s plight went viral after his teacher saw him wearing a dirty, tattered mask with its straps sewn back into place. But the teacher was even more alarmed to learn that this boy is not alone because his other students also had to reuse their disposable masks for many days.
“I took a moment of my time today to explain to my students why wearing a face mask is important in crowded places. I was immediately at a loss for words the moment I noticed one of my students was wearing a dirty face mask, with its ear loops needing to be sewn back in place,” wrote Fazri Hassan, a full-time special education teacher and a volunteer teacher for the undocumented communities in Malaysia.
Stained from the dust and grime that the student encountered in the many days he’s been using the mask, it already looked too dirty to wear. The straps are already broken but someone fixed it in place so the boy could still have something to wear.
Alarmed over this health hazard, the teacher inspected the other students’ masks but soon discovered that everyone else wears their masks for many days. Concerned over his students’ safety, the teacher decided to buy boxes of masks so he could provide them with a fresh one every morning.