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Last Update: 7 08 2020
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Students, parents glad schools now open, but worry about Covid-19 threat BY JACQUELINE DAVID ON JUNE 25, 2020, THURSDAY AT 12:10 AM
Posted on : 25 Jun 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post

A teacher directs a student to the next point in the queue to enter SMK St Thomas. As part of the requirement under the standard operating procedure set by the Education Ministry, the school placed markers on the ground to ensure those waiting in line observe the one-metre social distancing rule. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: It was excitement and relief for both students and parents here following the reopening of schools for Form 5 and Upper 6 classes yesterday, even if they remain wary of the continuing threat posed by Covid-19.

Reynold Antonio Lingga

A parent, Reynold Antonio Lingga, 43, said he was relieved that his son Javier could finally return to school after a three-month hiatus brought about by various movement control orders, but was nevertheless concerned about his safety and would be monitoring the situation throughout this week.

“I am grateful my son is already in secondary school as it is easier to monitor the students compared to young children in pre-schools and kindergartens.

“But today is only the first day of the reopening of schools so I will see how things go this week,” he said when dropping off his son at SMK St Joseph.

Javier Reynold

Javier meanwhile said he was mentally prepared to resume classroom learning while also excited to see his friends again.

“I am in Form 5 this year and am looking forward to sitting for my (SPM) exam, assuming the schedule is not changed. I can’t wait to meet my friends as I have not seen them for quite awhile,” he added.

Another parent, Norbaini Wasli, said the first thing she did yesterday morning was to pack an extra set of face masks and also hand sanitiser for her 17-year-old son.

“I also prepared food for him to bring to school since they (students) are allowed to only have their break in class,” said the 43-year-old civil servant when met at SMK St Joseph.

Norbaini Wasli

Norbaini added she also reminded her son to frequently wash and sanitise his hands, wear his face mask at all times, and to have his food in the classroom.

“Of course I am worried about my son’s safety. He is naturally excited at being able to return to school and see his friends, but as a parent, I worry for his safety because of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation.”

Ivan Chua

For Form 6 student Ivan Chua, he said the pandemic necessitates changes in one’s lifestyle and everyone must get used to living in the ‘new normal’.

“It’s definitely going to be different but in order to break the Covid-19 chain, we have to adhere to the SOP (standard operating procedure) and get used to the new normal.

A teacher conducts a temperature check on a returning student at SMK St Thomas. — Photo by Chimon Upon

“Definitely we have to take care of ourselves and make changes to our lifestyle in order not to create a new cluster,” said the 19-year-old SMK St Joseph student.

The school’s discipline teacher Chatina Kueh said most of the students who returned yesterday were aware of the SOP guidelines.

She said many had already familiarised themselves with the SOP on social distancing, temperature screening and personal hygiene practices.

“We have two entry points to the school, and when the students and teachers arrive we do temperature screening, write down their names, and require them to wash their hands before they go to their class,” she said.

A banner welcoming returning students is hung outside SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg. At right is Affida. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

Meanwhile, SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg principal Affida Helmi said matters pertaining to the SOP had been posted on the school’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to enable students to digest what was to be expected under the new normal.

She said the state Education Department had also allowed the school to run two sessions for returning students – 7am to 1pm for Form 5 classes, and 1.30pm to about 6pm for Form 6 – to ensure the social distancing requirement is met.

“We have 20 classes running now compared to before the MCO, as all the classes have been split into two. The six Form 5 classes (previously) have become 12, and the four Form 6 classes are now eight,” she said.

Returning students sanitise their hands and write their particulars upon arriving at SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

Schools throughout Sarawak welcomed the return of 41,088 Form 5 and Form 6 students yesterday, in line with the reopening of schools nationwide.

The reopening comes after three months of closure brought about by the implementation of various movement control orders since March 18, to combat the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin has expressed confidence that schools in Sarawak were prepared to reopen, having implemented the necessary guidelines and standard operating procedures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.