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Students greeted with new normal on first day of school

Izah Azahari, Daniel Lim, Azlan Othman & James Kon

Fully-vaccinated students yesterday headed back to school for face-to-face learning for the first time since the second wave of COVID-19 hit the Sultanate. The adoption of temperature check and weekly antigen rapid test (ART) are set to be part of the new school norm.

Some 291 Meragang Sixth Form Centre students returned to their classroom yesterday after getting their temperatures checked, and BruHealth code verified at the entrance to the school premises. COVID-19 testing will be conducted every Monday morning at the school’s hall.

According to PTEM PR officer, students tested positive for COVID-19 will be isolated and requested to take a PCR test.

“We have all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, including social distancing and wearing face masks at all times.”

“Meanwhile, partially vaccinated students will receive home-learning packs.”

The sixth form centre hoped the students will take advantage of the physical lessons to receive the best education and prepare themselves for upcoming examinations.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank teachers, parents and students for their support during home-based learning,” added the officer.

The sixth form centre also thanked the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) for the support and provision of personal protective equipment.

A student gets his temperature checked. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR, JAMES KON & SMSA
A student verifies her BruHealth code with a school staff
Students at Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Masna Secondary School take an antigen rapid test
ABOVE & BELOW: Meragang Sixth Form Centre students on the first day of school; and Sayyidina Ali Secondary School students await result from their COVID-19 test

ABOVE & BELOW: PTEM students during a class; and Amirah Syaqinah binti Abu Bakar and Ummi Nur Sabrina during an interview with the Bulletin

Acting Principal of Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Masna Secondary School Pengiran Mohd Ariffin bin Pengiran Haji Aliuddin oversees COVID-19 testing for students
Teachers and staff ready to assist students during the antigen rapid test session

“We are confident our teachers are ready to continue teaching and learning,” said the PR officer.

In adhering to the rules, regulations and guidelines set by the MoH and MoE, returning Years 10 and 11 students of Sayyidina Ali Secondary School in Belait District yesterday took the ART and attended an hour-long refresher course.

Principal Steven Shim Sheau Huei said the course aimed to help students acclimatise themselves to the new norm.

“Over the course of five months of hiatus from physical lessons since August 7 last year, Sayyidina Ali Secondary School outlined SOPs that are aligned with the guidelines set by the MoH and MoE,” Shim said.

Shim also said the staff and teachers have taken extra precautionary steps in ensuring the health and safety of both the students and teachers.

“We advised our teachers to be fully vaccinated and to conduct ART every two weeks,” Shim said. “And for those who are not yet fully vaccinated, they have to take the test every two days.”

“This,” he added, “is in addition to the regular temperature check as well as the use of BruHealth application.”

The principal said the school not only focusses on ensuring that the students are on track with their education; but also safeguarding the health, both physically and mental of the students and teachers.

To mark the start of new academic year, SMSA will conduct Year 7 orientation virtually, starting today.

Meanwhile, students from Arabic schools across the country and Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah joined others in resuming face-to-face classes yesterday as part of the first stage of the Endemic Phase after months of remote learning due to the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sanah 10, 11 and Pre-U students began physical classes yesterday, while others continue their lessons online using home learning pack.

Some 707 Pre-U1 and Pre-U2 Hassanal Bolkiah Boys Arabic Secondary School students, 634 Sanah 10 and 11 Hassanal Bolkiah Boys Arabic Secondary School students, 712 Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Girls Arabic Secondary School students and 99 Ma’had Islam Brunei students began their physical lessons yesterday.

Meanwhile, 68 Aliyah Qiraat Diploma students and 136 Years 10 and 11 Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah students also stepped onto the school grounds for the first time since August 2020.

Others continue learning via home learning packs.

Returning students were tested for the virus, had their body temperature checked and attendance taken as part of SOPs for schools during the Early Endemic Phase.

Among the activities arranged included Hajat prayer, reading 30 chapters of Al-Quran, Doa Khatam Al-Quran, Thanksgiving prayer, Doa against COVID-19 and Doa Peliharakan Sultan and Negara Brunei Darussalam.

Over 300 Years 10 and 11 students of Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Masna Secondary School also returned to face-to-face learning yesterday.

Acting Principal Pengiran Mohd Ariffin bin Pengiran Haji Aliuddin was present to oversee the school re-opening following a four-month hiatus due to the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak in the Sultanate.

Students got their temperatures checked and underwent testing for COVID-19 at the schools’ multipurpose hall prior to the first class.

Teachers and staff were on hand to assist the students carrying out the test to ensure safety and efficiency.

Teachers and staff were asked to conduct their own ART the day before the school re-opening.

According to Pengiran Mohd Ariffin, “All teachers and staff have already received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and half have also received their boosters.

“Alhamdulillah, we can continue face-to-face lessons today. Students who are allowed to come to school, do not have to worry about anything other than the class. The important part is to always follow the SOPs. We hope that the resumption of classroom learning will motivate the students to give their best in school.”

A Year 10 student, Ummi Nur Sabrina, relished the opportunity to be back on school grounds with her friends.

“After four months off missing classroom learning, I am thankful to be back in school again. Online classes were challenging and very stressful. I feel very excited and happy to be back in school to see and meet my friends as well as teachers while at the same time maintaining a social distance with others. We also need to wear face masks all the times and use hand sanitiser regularly.

She added, “I have done ART before, so I am comfortable with it. It’s easy to use. However, I do feel nervous when I am waiting for the result. When the result shows I’m negative, I feel immediate relief.”

Meanwhile, Amirah Syaqinah binti Abu Bakar, also in Year 10, said, “I am very happy to be able to come back to school again. I am very thankful to be able to continue my studies in the classroom.

“Online classes were quite stressful; I struggled to fully grasp some of the subjects. Now, I can see my friends and teachers in person after four months of learning remotely.

“The ART can give us a peace of mind, knowing that we are not infected. It was my first time taking ART and I felt ticklish in the nose and wanted to sneeze.

“At first, I felt nervous. But once the result was out, I was relieved to learn I am negative for the coronavirus.”

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