Parents can opt not to send their kids when school reopens

Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

PARENTS can decide against sending their children to school if they are worried about the pandemic, says the Education Ministry.

Its deputy director-general (school operation sector) Adzman Talib said it was up to parents on whether to send their children to school, though they would need to present an official letter notifying the school of their decision if they decide not to.

He said students with compromised immunity or those who suffer from health complications such as asthma or needing dialysis, among others, must keep their masks on at all times when in school.

“Teachers should also keep their masks on when teaching at a close proximity.

“However, it is not wrong if teachers were to pull their masks down when they are teaching in front of the class, ” he said during a two-hour webinar on the ministry’s YouTube Channel EduwebTV yesterday as reported in The Star.

Years Five and Six pupils, Forms One to Four students, remove class students and Form Six Semester 1 students resume face-to-face classes on July 15; and Years One to Four pupils return on July 22.

Noting that parents have every right to safeguard their children’s safety, National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said teachers fared well since Forms Five and Six students returned to school on June 24.

“So far, the teachers have no complaints on their workload as their colleagues are doing their part to ensure compliance with the guidelines, while teaching the syllabus according to the pace of their students, ” he said.

Teachers, he said, were doing a great job since schools reopened.

Teacher adapting well

An upper secondary school teacher named Seri from Selangor said teachers were adapting well with the new norms and standard operating procedure (SOP).

“Most of my colleagues say that they are happy (to be teaching face-to-face again) and are faring well.

“I was initially worried about the situation but I braved myself when it came to assisting the school to prepare for the students’ return.

“I was cautious when the Form Five students came back but following the SOP is now a routine.

“Everything will be all right if we follow the guidelines, ” he said, adding that teachers had a big responsibility to bear when taking care of students’ safety and welfare.

A Form Five student who wanted to be identified as Nairobi said he enjoyed being back in school.

“Initially it was hard to get used to the SOP, but after some time I got the hang of it.

“It is really great to be in a smaller class because I could focus better.

“The teachers also enjoy having fewer students, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Malaysian Association of Kindergartens president Eveleen Khoo said preschoolers also adapted well to new norms despite their young age.

“Teachers introduced the SOP to the children in the first week and they felt very proud and important when they followed the rules.

“Parents have also been very supportive and cooperative, ” she said, adding that everyone ensured the welfare of the children was prioritised.

As there were fewer children to handle, lessons went on smoothly, she said.

There was less misbehaviour compared to the pre-pandemic days and teachers were able to provide individual attention because of the smaller number of children in class, she added.

Khoo said more parents started sending their children to school as they grew more confident that schools were carrying out the SOP well.

“However, some challenges we faced included school fee issues and teachers having to take pay cuts, ” she said.

Students worried for safety

Meanwhile, some lower secondary students are worried about their safety when they return to school on July 15.

Although excited to see her friends again, Form Two student Amirah Solehah said she was worried about the whole school being infected by a single student who is asymptomatic of the virus.

Another student, Pravineesh, 14, said he hoped a vaccine would be found soon.

“I want our lives to go back to normal. I pray that none of the students or teachers have Covid-19.

“Otherwise, don’t expect me to go to school for the rest of the year.”

A student who only wanted to be known as Qi Rong feared it was still too early for students to resume face-to-face classes.

“The virus is constantly mutating and we don’t have a vaccine yet.

“Even when there is one, will it work against the various mutations?” he asked.