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KUCHING, Feb 27 — An educational body has proposed the reopening of schools be postponed to mid-May while lauding the State Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) decision on schools in red zones across Sarawak to resume classes on Mar 15.
Sarawak United Association of Chinese Primary School Boards of Management president Jonathan Chai said it would be ideal for schools to reopen two or so months later given that Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had recently predicted that the number of Covid-19 positive cases in Malaysia would be reduced to double digits by then.
More ideally, Chai asserted that schools should be reopened only when either the pandemic situation in the country is very much under control or the majority of the population is vaccinated against the virus.
Contacted by The Borneo Post here today, he said he could not comprehend the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) rationale for its “one-size-fits-all” decision that schools nationwide are to reopen on Mar 1.
He added that such incomprehension was heightened as the country had been registering thousands of Covid-19 positive cases on a daily basis.
“When we encountered a similar situation last year, the schools were asked to close and the students asked to go online. Why is there a sudden change of plans now when the enhanced version of online teaching was just introduced a couple of weeks earlier?”
Chai said they had expected that the students would not be asked to go back to school at least for a while since the latest guidelines on online teaching had been introduced.
He feared that the MoE’s erratic decision might send the wrong impression to the general public that the pandemic situation in the country is under control.
He also cautioned that in light of such decision, the community might have a lackadaisical attitude towards observing all the standard operating procedures (SOP) in place.
“To the best of my knowledge, a penolong kanan with a Chinese primary school in Kuching was tested positive for Covid-19 just a few days ago and most senior staff with the school are now under quarantine because of close contact.
“We would not be able to imagine if the school was asked to resume next Monday (Mar 1),” he said.
According to Chai, most parents would be reluctant to send their children back to school at this stage.
He said they could only hope that schools which were expected to reopen next week would strictly comply with the SOP.
In a statement yesterday, SDMC announced that schools in Covid-19 red zones in Sarawak would remain closed until Mar 14.
At the time the statement was issued, nine districts in the state were classified as red zones.
They are Kuching, Samarahan, Julau, Meradong, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu, Subis and Miri.
On Feb 19, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that preschoolers, Year 1 and 2 students would return to school on Mar 1, Year 3 to 6 students on Mar 8, secondary school students in Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah on Apr 4 and the remaining states on Apr 5. — Borneo Post Online