Contributed by Corporate Communications Division, Ministry of Education
Students, parents and teachers had been getting ready for the much-anticipated return to school as the New Year celebrations fizzled out. Schools nationwide re-opened their doors in stages beginning January 3 as part of the Early Endemic Phase; the first stage seeing the return of Year 10 to 13 students, including special needs students of priority levels 1 and 2 physically to school.
Concurrently, unvaccinated students and students below 12 resumed learning from home. Teachers have also provided home learning packs (HLPs) to ensure students with no access to online learning will not miss out on their education.
While students and teachers adapt to the new normal, their safety in schools amid the pandemic is paramount. Hence, in addition to schools’ existing business continuity plan (BCP), comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines have been put in place, including a once-a-week antigen rapid testing (ART) for the students, teachers and non-teaching staff who have completed two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The SOPs and guidelines are crucial to raise awareness among students and teachers on the importance of social distancing, classroom seating arrangements, wearing masks, applying hand sanitiser and temperature check upon entering school premises.
Muda Hashim Secondary School Principal Hajah Adimah binti Haji Mohd said, “Parents were already informed of the SOPs and guidelines for Year 10 to 11 students through a virtual meeting via Microsoft Teams. Infographics and instructions were also provided via WhatsApp. For everyone’s safety, it is compulsory for students to wear face masks at all times, wash or sanitise their hands frequently and maintain social distancing while at school.”
She added, “Teachers also guide the students in performing the ART procedures at school halls. Most students have never tried the test before. An ART demonstration video was played for them to understand better and do the test with confidence.”
Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Secondary School Teacher Irene Chee Siew Ling said, “To ensure the students’ safety in school, the BruHealth code must be green and body temperature must not exceed 37 degrees Celsius. Every Monday upon arrival at school, the students are also required to go to the school hall to undergo testing.
“Students who are sick or have tested positive will be sent home immediately, and parents advised to bring their children to get PCR swab test. While waiting for their parents to pick them up, they will be isolated in a designated area, away from the others as a safety precaution.”
Ling added that for students wishing to buy food at the school canteen during break time, they are required to pre-order their food early in the morning during class registration. “Only two students in each class are allowed to collect their food during break time to avoid crowding in the canteen.”
As safety measures and guidelines are being implemented at schools, parents and students can be rest assured that teaching and learning sessions are conducted in a safe environment.
Year 11 student Nur Niqmah binti Kahar from Sayyidina Abu Bakar Secondary School said she felt excited the moment she stepped into the school hall after months of school closure, seeing familiar faces even though they were wearing face masks.
“On the first day of school, the guidelines for entry to the school premises were clear and organised,” she said. “I feel safe and ready to start learning physically at school. I will always follow the school guidelines to make sure my friends and I as well as the people around me are safe.”
Meanwhile, parent Hajah Siti Mayang binti Haji Hussin said, “I have confidence in the current SOPs and guidelines implemented by the Ministry of Education (MoE). Schools now have become safe spaces for students to continue learning face-to-face.”
She added, “I hope all parents and students do their part in keeping the school community safe by following the SOPs, wearing face masks, practising social distancing and maintaining hygiene and cleanliness.”
Another parent, Ismail bin Haji Chuchu, welcomed the MoE’s decision to re-open schools and institutions physically in stages.
“With face-to-face learning, students can completely focus on their studies especially when they can interact with their teachers spontaneously,” he said.
With the comprehensive SOPs and guidelines providing all-round directions to facilitate the school reopening for students, teachers and parents, it is hoped that the second phase, which is expected to begin on January 17, will be conducted smoothly, as we welcome the return of Year 7 to 9 students back to schools safely.