Students go back to schools from June 2

Izah Azahari

The Ministry of Education (MoE) yesterday announced plans to have students return to classrooms starting next month.

“With the advice and cooperation of the Ministry of Health (MoH), all primary and secondary schools, sixth-form centres, vocational schools and the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), along with private schools, will re-open for classroom learning in phases, starting from June 2,” said Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman during the daily press conference at the MoH building yesterday.

He also stated that the re-opening of international schools would be subject to the dates set by their respective institutions.

“Physical or face-to-face learning and teaching will begin in stages, to ensure that the well-being, safety and health of the students and school residents in Brunei Darussalam are always guaranteed, while preventing a new wave of COVID-19 from spreading,” he said.

“To launch the learning and teaching sessions when the schools re-open, several operating procedures were shared with school leaders, such as the re-opening of schools through stages, guidelines for schools, the preparation of social distancing and personal hygiene.”

He explained that in the first stage from June 2-13, priority would be accorded to Year 6, Year 8, Year 10 Express, Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13 students who will be sitting for public examinations under the MoE and MoRA.

The MoE also provided parents and teachers with the School Management Guidelines as a reference for the learning and teaching sessions during the second term.

“For all of the stages, all curriculum activities and co-curricular activities will be cancelled to ensure the safety and social security of all students and teachers,” said the minister.

“For primary and secondary schools, the importance of social distancing during teaching and learning is emphasised.

“Smaller classes will use larger spaces such as conference rooms, library spaces, auditoriums or prayer halls, where the school can determine the number of students attending and those who will be studying from home, subject to Internet access and video-conferencing facilities at the student’s residence.

“Primary schools with small numbers of students, especially with Internet connectivity issues, may choose to have students attend five days a week. It is recommended to conduct laboratory or practical classes in secondary schoolsin the afternoon or break them into smaller groups.

“Aspects of safety, hygiene and control of the virus including social distancing, will be prioritised when school session re-opens.

“At the school level, several steps will be taken to ensure the well-being and safety of the school community, including body temperature checks for everyone entering the school premises; a limit of one guardian sending the students to school; hand sanitisers being provided at strategic locations of school areas; no school gatherings, outdoor activities, physical activities and drama classes; classroom seats arranged least one metre apart; and other issues which have been discussed with school leaders.”

School canteen employees will be required to wear face masks and gloves, practise personal hygiene at all times such as hand-washing before handling food, to clean the canteen premises on a regular basis, and implement an early booking system as an option
for students. With school hostels still closed, students living at a distance from their schools can continue to study at home five days a week.

This issue will be updated from time to time, in accordance with the developments in the
COVID-19 situation.

Meanwhile, students of the Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College (MSPSBS) will be required to attend school for subjects that involve projects and practical classes.

Students from other schools can attend on the days requiring to be present for laboratory or practical classes, and to prepare projects for the examinations.

The minister also said, “To enhance awareness and understanding of the importance of maintaining social distancing, students, parents and teachers will also be provided with important information on matters of concern.”