Facebook group admin implores authorities to close schools as Covid-19 cases rise

An open letter by Facebook user Jenifer Lawrence to SDMC, federal and state education departments, and 27 political leaders in Sarawak.

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, April 17: Some 80 primary and secondary schools in Sarawak have had at least one Covid-19 case either among the students or the school staff, in the past 12 days from April 5 to 16.

This was disclosed by ‘Sarawak Covid-19 Awareness Group’ Facebook group admin with the username ‘Jenifer Lawrence’ through the gathering of published school notices and news reports.

In a simple bulleted list, the user recorded the names of the affected schools, dates of notices or news publications, number of Covid-19 cases, and following actions of the schools which some include the closing of the schools for three days, 14 days or a total lockdown.

At an earlier period from March 1 to April 2, Jenifer counted a total of 26 schools affected where mainly new cases were detected among teachers and students.

With that said, Jenifer collected a total of 106 schools known to be affected by Covid-19 since the reopening of schools in early March.

Now with proof of the severity of resuming classes during Covid-19 widespread and despite many objections at the time from different parties especially parents, the user urged political leaders and people’s representatives in Sarawak to join the cause to support online classes for all schools.

“To all politicians and heads of departments, please for now close all physical classes and replace them with PdPR (Home-based Teaching and Learning) at critical areas for the safety and invaluable lives of the school community.

“Here I plead to all of you. This is the time for you to speak up as a people’s representative or leader. I ask you not to stay silent anymore, please.

“Together we can make it happen. Please pity the frontliners who are burdened enough,” the user said in an open letter in the Facebook group ‘Sarawak Covid-19 Awareness Group’ yesterday (April 16).

The letter was directed to the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), then the Ministry of Education Malaysia and Sarawak Education Department with their respective Facebook pages being tagged in the post.

Following that were 27 political leaders including ministers, Member of Parliaments (MPs) and assemblymen from both political divides. Among them were Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Bintulu MP Dato Sri Tiong King Sing and Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Jenifer also attached news articles, video clips or Facebook posts by six parties who have already publicly voiced their pleas for the authorities to consider closing all schools to prevent more Covid-19 cases.

They are the Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) president Adam Parkash Abdullah, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth secretary-general Milton Foo, Tiong, DAP member Marcus Hugo Matu Lejau, DAP Sarawak deputy chairman David Wong and Utilities Minister Dr Stephen Rundi Utom. — DayakDaily