Students happy to return to schools, says minister

Azlan Othman

Students rejoiced when schools re-opened on Tuesday as they met with friends again after staying at home for weeks following the outbreak of COVID-19. Teachers were also eager to teach the students.

This was said by Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman during a press conference at the Al- ‘Afiah Hall yesterday.

The minister said public reaction towards the reopening of schools after nearly 11 weeks has been positive but there are “teething problems” that need to be resolved.

He said there were issues with traffic congestion when parents dropped off and fetched their children, while teachers and students are still coming to terms with “new norms” such as physical distancing measures.

“There were students who are not used to wearing face masks and feel uneasy to breathe and to interact with their teachers,” Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah said.

Students wear face masks and face shields at a school. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

It will take time to get used to practising good hygiene and wearing protective face masks at schools, the minister added.

Meanwhile, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah also said the Scholarship Section of the Ministry of Education is still monitoring the COVID-19 situation in countries where Bruneian students are studying.

Discussions were also held with the Ministry of Health on when to allow them back to their places of study. Majority of Bruneian students studying at foreign universities are attending classes online. There are also discussions with their host universities to resume lessons in a safe environment.

“Cambridge University in the UK for instance has said that they are carrying out online learning until next year,” the minister said.

The minister added that school hostels are still not open for students. However, transportation facilities are provided for sixth-form students residing in Temburong District.