Adapting to new norms

Lyna Mohamad

Kindergartens nationwide resumed physical classes beginning January 17, where only permitted schools by the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the Department of Private Education, are allowed to welcome back their students.

The schools are also required to comply with health guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure safety of the children.

This includes operating with a 30-per-cent capacity, abiding to health measures such as wearing face masks, checking temperature before entering the premises and ensuring good ventilation.

Students and staff must also take the antigen rapid test (ART) every week while staggered school hours will help reduce congestion. Only individuals with green or yellow BruHealth code are allowed to drop off and pick up their children.

Principal of Taman Asuhan Kanak-Kanak Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (TASKA YSHHB) Datin Hajah Zainab binti Haji Abdul Wahab said, all students are required to take the ART once a week and only those who are healthy and test negative for COVID-19 are allowed entry. Those who are unwell will be asked to stay at home, and parents and guardians need to inform their children’s teachers about their absence.

Wearing face masks is compulsory for all kindergarteners while the teachers will only allow for the removal of face masks during break time, with social distancing measures in place.

Teachers and staff are also on hand to ensure students practice and maintain cleanliness and personal hygiene, such as washing hands before and after eating, playing,and bathroom breaks.

A student and his parent undergoing ART prior to entering Taman Asuhan Kanak-Kanak Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. PHOTOS: MOE
ABOVE & BELOW: A teacher guides a student in basic hygiene; and a student during a play session

Jigsaw Primary School teacher Nur Amalina Hasanah binti Haji Mohammad Jamil said maintaining cleanliness and social distancing in the classroom is expected from the staff.

Pengiran Samsiah binti Pengiran Haji Hashim said despite physical learning for kindergarteners, the school aspires to carry out face-to-face teaching effectively while maintaining strict SOPs to ensure safety of its students and teachers.

Meanwhile, Learning Tree School Assistant Headmaster Rommel V Concepcion said students will be divided into groups and take turns attending school once a week; they will also continue to learn through the home learning pack (HLP).

Kindergarteners at Sultan Hashim Primary School have also been settling well into school life, said Acting Headmistress Limawati Galawat.

“It has been a few days since the re-opening of kindergartens. All have gone well and the students are happy to be in school for face-to-face lessons and interaction with teachers and friends.”

She said the school will always diligently observe the health measures and SOPs while working closely with parents to ensure their children’s education is well taken care of during home-based learning as well as when they attend physical classes.

Marilyn Kok Lee Chin of Sultan Hashim Primary School said she has been teaching using many types of plays in meeting the specific developmental needs of every child, such as role-playing, and encouraging them to participate in a natural conversational style.

“Students can also engage in social play, during which interact in a group and blend in. This helps to develop children’s communications and interpersonal skills,” she said.

Kok also believed that the key elements in teaching young children are tenderness, love and care, those working with young learners require teachers to spend time listening, talking and doing things with them. She also hoped the re-opening of schools this year will result in a better learning environment for her students.

Parent Karni Norhafidzah binti Haji Abd Karim is among those who lauded the MoE’s move to re-open kindergartens and is grateful that her daughter who is attending kindergarten at Chung Hwa School, can finally step onto school grounds.

“I believe face-to-face classes and practical learning are more effective for my daughter’s early education, especially when she is attending a school that has three languages as their school subjects,” she said.