Put off classes in schools until Covid herd immunity achieved, says Bukit Assek rep
Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said face-to-face classes for school students should be deferred until the Covid-19 vaccination programme has achieved the desired herd immunity. — Borneo Post pic

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SIBU, Feb 26 — Face-to-face classes for school students should be deferred until the Covid-19 vaccination programme has achieved the desired herd immunity or at least until the end of March, said Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang.

Until then, lessons should be conducted online, she said, adding that parents in the Covid-19 red zones were still worried about sending their children back to school when it reopens next month.

Chang said even with the vaccine now available, most students and their family would not be adequately protected as most of their parents would be in the third phase of the government’s vaccination programme which would only be rolled out from the end of March.

She said these parents were the ones who would be in direct contact with their young school-going children and the parents’ concerns were not without basis given the number of students infected with Covid-19 during the third wave last year.

Chang said it had been reported that nationwide from Sept 20, 2020 until October 21, 2020, more than 1,000 students had been infected by Covid-19. They consisted of 587 pupils aged between seven to 12 and 670 between the ages of 13 and 18, she said.

“While we do not have the updated numbers, the recent 22 students of SMK Meradong being tested positive for Covid-19 shows that it is always challenging to contain the infection among students, especially the restless primary school students to keep to strict SOP for the whole day,” she said in a press statement today.

“SDMC should therefore not ignore the cries of these parents in Sarawak, especially given the fact that we can only expect a drop in the numbers of covid cases when the herd immunity through the vaccination programme is achieved. And that would not be in the immediate timeline,” said Chang, referring to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee.

She said SDMC should urge the state’s Education, Science and Technical Research Ministry to liaise with its federal counterpart to allow online lessons to continue for schools in all zones until at least the end of March when the third phase of the vaccination programme would be rolled out.

“Since we are already at the end of February and there is already a lot for the students to catch up on academically, one more month of virtual learning would be nothing compared to if the whole recovery plan through the vaccination programme is jeopardized though any oversight by the authorities concerned,” she pointed out.

With the availability of the vaccine, she also urged SDMC to remind the people against letting down their guard in practising the standard operating procedures (SOP).

“While the vaccination is the only reasonable and responsible medical route to take in this stage of the fight against Covid-19, SDMC and the State Health Ministry should also make sure that the SOP continues to be strictly observed until the herd immunity against the infection is sufficiently built up among the people,” she said.

She added that the state government and the leaders should lead by example in the strict compliance with SOP. — Borneo Post