Back to school move lauded

PETALING JAYA: The move to reopen schools in stages from March 1 has received the thumbs-up from various stakeholders.

“We are delighted that some sort of normalcy has returned to the lives of our students,” said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock yesterday.

“A survey that we carried out last year among teachers, which received about 10,500 respondents, showed that 93% wanted face-to-face teaching with their students.”

He said it was a good move to allow schools to gradually accept students, following the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the Education Ministry.

“We cannot run away from Covid-19, so the best that we can do before they receive the vaccination is to follow the SOP set by the World Health Organisation and the Health Ministry.

“Although the general opinion is that schools should reopen, the point of contention for parents is when (to do that) and the safety of children. Pupils are definitely eager to return to school as they would be able to meet and play with their friends, and not confined within the walls of their home,” Tan added.

Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin had announced that preschoolers and primary school pupils in Year One and Year Two will start face-to-face classes on March 1 while Year Three to Year Six pupils will resume classes on March 8.

As for secondary schools, students in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu will start lessons on April 4, while students in other states will return on April 5.

Parent Action Group for Education president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said while pupils are happy to meet their friends, the drawback is “probably they would have to get up early and then jump into their stiff uniforms rather than remain in pyjamas or light fitting clothes at home”.

“It is the parents who will have mixed feelings about the chances of their children getting infected in school versus making up for lost time.

“More importantly, parents have to ensure the SOP is adhered to from home to school,” she said.

Primary school pupil Wong Jun Sin, nine, is delighted to be able to attend Mandarin classes, as it is one of her favourite subjects.

“I’m excited to see my teacher Mr Ee Oh,” said the pupil of SRJK Puay Chai 2 in Petaling Jaya.

His father, David Wong, 41, an IT specialist, said online learning works for older children and adults.

“The younger ones will want to ask questions, so face-to-face interaction is better,” he said.

“It can be challenging for the young ones as they can’t focus. Discipline is needed for them to follow lessons.”

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