NUTP: Schools ready for reopening

PETALING JAYA: Schools have been preparing for reopening since the start of this year and are ready to welcome pupils back for face-to-face learning, said National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock.Although schools are ready for the March 1 reopening, the union – which has 220,000 members – hopes the government will consider implementing a rotational system to ensure schools with a large student enrolment will be able to adhere strictly to the Covid-19 standard operating procedure.

This rotational system is also proposed by Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin, who suggests that students at different levels take turns studying in school and from home on different days of the week.

“Parents, ” he said, “are anxious as the country’s active Covid-19 cases remain high.”

The rotational model, he said, would be effective in preventing the spread of the virus while still allowing students to return to school.

On Jan 20, Year One pupils

started their first day of school at home. But come Monday, they will experience going to school for the first time.

Meanwhile, parents are taking precautionary measures to ensure their young children are safe when they begin face-to-face lessons.

Event consultant Muhammad Fareq Othman, 34, said he would prefer if his daughter could study both from home and at school on a rotational basis.

This, he said, would help stop the spread of the virus.

Though he is worried about her going to school, he is happy she will be able to experience learning in a classroom.

“From an educational perspective, it is better for the child to be learning in school, ” he said.

Muhammad Fareq has been constantly reminding his daughter to wash her hands and stay a safe distance from everyone.

He had bought all her school supplies, including uniforms and school bags, in December in anticipation of the start of school.

Azza Azrin Juri, 33, is packing a bottle of hand sanitiser for her eldest child, who will begin his primary school journey next week.

He will also have to take a bath immediately when he returns home.

She said it would be better for her son Arrizqy Izzran, seven, to study in school but he, together with the other pupils, must strictly abide by the SOP.

“I’m always reminding him to keep maintaining physical distance, not to touch his friends, always use hand sanitiser and not share drinks or food with his friends, ” she said.

She has also been giving him vitamin C, multivitamins and cod liver oil supplements to boost his immune system.

To “acclimatise” her son with learning at school, the housewife and part-time dessert entrepreneur said she has been having him wear his uniform around the house.

She also said that she has not been informed if parents can accompany their child on the first day of

school – a common sight during pre-Covid-19 days.

However, she added, the school had sent reminders on the SOP pupils need to abide by.

A headmaster, who wants to be known as James, said he and his colleagues at his school in Subang Jaya are excited to have pupils back on school grounds.

“But the school environment will be out of the ordinary as the movement of every student has to be supervised at all times, ” he said.

The school has sent parents a checklist of basic requirements, including the rules and regulations, timetable and daily routines so the child will not be late or miss sessions such as the school assembly.

The school will follow the SOP listed in the Education Ministry’s School Management and Operations Under the New Norm 2.0 guidelines, which include temperature checks and isolating pupils with symptoms in a separate room until they are sent to a health centre.

James said teachers are eager to resume face-to-face lessons as home-based teaching and learning are not very effective for young children.Last Friday, Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that preschool, Year

One and Year Two pupils at primary schools under the ministry will resume face-to-face lessons from March 1.

Year Three to Year Six pupils will return a week later, on March 8, he said.

These pupils are returning sooner than others so that they can familiarise themselves with the SOP, especially those who are stepping foot into schools for the first time like Year One pupils.

Mohd Radzi added that students must show proof of a medical condition or sickness, such as a doctor’s letter, to explain why they cannot return to school.

Representative for Unicef in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam, Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, said Unicef welcomed and fully supported the government’s decision to reopen schools, as it would allow students to access all sorts of provisions like psychosocial support and nutrition, besides education.

“The school is a microcosm of society, it is a safe space for all children. Schools reopening will allow students to access these services, and to learn, connect and play with their friends again.

“The longer children remain out of school, the greater the learning loss and irreversible harm for them, ” he said.

As a priority, he said teachers and school personnel should be vaccinated against Covid-19, once frontline health workers and high-risk groups were vaccinated.