Coronavirus: Quebec school boards scramble to set up recycling programs for disposable masks
High school students resumed in-person classes this week with new COVID-19 rules. Cloth masks are now banned and students are required to wear disposable surgical masks provided by the government.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) says it has handed some 21,000 masks daily and that those masks end up in the garbage when the final bell rings.
“Just roughly calculating 100 days till the end of June, we’re looking at 2.1 million masks,” said LBPSB assistant director general, Carol Heffernan.
The Quebec government is encouraging schools to collect the masks so they don’t end up in landfills.
In a statement, the Ministry of Education said it sent a list of companies that can recycle masks, specifying that the government would absorb the costs.
Heffernan says it would have been nice to have a system in place before the disposable masks became mandatory, but added the board is hoping to start recycling as soon as possible.
“We’re waiting for quotes from the different companies because it could be upwards of $100,000,” she said.
The English Montreal School Board has not started recycling masks either, but says a plan is in the works.
“We’re happy to know that the government is going to be covering these costs,” said EMSB chair Joe Ortona. “We’ve been saying all along that they should be covering all of our COVID-related costs.”