Mixed bag of emotions as schools re-open

Izah Azahari

The first day of classes resumed yesterday, bringing a mixed bag of emotions to primary school halls across the country. Some students were visibly elated to be reunited with friends, while others wandered teary-eyed in search of their parents, as they adjusted to their new school environment.

Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB) Primary School Headmistress Hajah Mariam binti Haji Ladi said the school has 1,087 Year 1 to Year 6 students, and that routine preparations had been made in anticipation of the students return.

This year, greater focus will be placed on academic activities as the school awaits the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) approval to conduct co-curricular activities.

“Student admission went smoothly today, and we will hold a briefing according to the standard operating procedure (SOPs) for the students in the hall later today. To smoothen things further, we will also conduct a teachers’ meeting to ensure the classes run smoothly,” she said.

Hajah Mariam said that despite the slight shortening of school hours, teachers were able to keep up with the syllabus, adding that the short school day is put in place to ensure social distancing and avoid traffic congestion at the school’s sole entrance.

ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show students during the first day of school. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI & IZAH AZAHARI

Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Primary School Headmistress Hajah Mariam binti Haji Ladi
ABOVE & BELOW: Students with their face masks on; and a class in session

She said the school is looking to further improve the quality of education this year, and hopes the teachers will be able to produce “holistic individuals” that are not only excellent academically, but also possess characteristics (in line with Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) that pave the way for success in this life and the hereafter.

Meanwhile, DES School Principal Rafizah binti Abdul Rahman told the Bulletin that the school recorded over 900 students this year.

As with other schools, DES School is strict with its SOPs by checking the temperatures and scanning in the BruHealth code of teachers and parents coming through the door, she said.

“We have practised running temperature checks before entering the school, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Face masks are not mandatory for children in the classroom (as per MoE’s advice), but they are advisable. Also, we tell parents to keep the children’s face masks and hygiene packs in their school bags,” she said.

Rafizah said there is a school practice of handwashing before and after breaks, and that teachers are there to remind students to clean their hands.

“Academically, our motto is ‘Always aim high, no matter what’, and a lot of our students achieved 5As last year. DES School has one of the best results in Brunei Darussalam. But no matter what the student achieves, we celebrate everyone here as we believe in supporting each other.”

Ramizah said this year, the school “has implemented the saying ‘Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best’ and ‘It’s not what we say, but what we do’, with the belief that teachers are role models and mentors to the students, adding “we look to create a conducive working and learning environment through our four core values – Cooperation, Appreciation, Respect and Empathy for everyone.”

Meanwhile, parent Saimah binti Haji Ramli, who was recently laid off, said that school preperations for her Year 4 child had to be kept to a minimum.

“Although we weren’t able to spend as much as we would in preparing for our son’s new school term, we still managed to get most of the things he needs. Today was also a bit hectic with traffic jams everywhere as people were getting back into the groove of morning school runs,” she said.