Group calls for delay on full reopening of schools in red-zone Miri

Part of the letter to Lee appealing for full reopening of schools in red-zone Miri to be delayed to a later date until Covid-19 situation is under control

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 30: Sarawak Covid 19 Awareness Group is calling for the delay to full reopening of schools in red-zone Miri in which physical classes for pre-, primary and secondary schools are expected to resume on April 5 as the District still records a high number of Covid-19 cases.

The Group has today written to Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin to appeal the matter following a survey in which some 1,000 concerned parents or guardians have agreed that school reopenings should be delayed until a later date depending on the Covid-19 situation in Miri District.

They hoped that Lee, who is also Transport Minister, can raise this issue with the Miri District Disaster Management Committee (Miri DDMC) and even Sarawak DMC (SDMC) including the Sarawak State Education Department to delay the reopening of school once again due to several factors.

The Group highlighted that a head of a secondary school has tested positive yesterday (March 29) after undergoing screening.

“Imagine if school is opened then, how many teachers and students will be impacted. The answer is quite clear and it will have a huge and detrimental effect.

“Young children need to be protected during this pandemic and it is only right that their safety is not compromised at this critical period,” read the letter.

The Group also stressed that Miri was among the districts in Sarawak that registered a high number of daily infections in recent two weeks with a total of 545 cases, out of which 538 were local cases while 480 active cases are still being isolated and treated currently.

“The weekly cumulative cases in Miri between March 22 and 28 were higher as compared to the week when YB (Lee) decided to postpone school openings scheduled on March 1.”

The Group explained that another delay is crucial as full reopening of schools will give rise to increase movement of people outside including inter-district travel especially for those needing to send their children to boarding schools such as SM Sains, SMK Agama, vocational colleges and other secondary schools, which would in turn increase the risks of infections and complicate the tasks of healthcare frontliners.

“Moreover, it would also be difficult for schools with huge capacity to practice SOP (standard operating procedures) as thousands of students will be present at one time.

“Also, sporadic cases in Miri unrelated to any clusters are also high.”

The Group commended the leadership of Lee in delaying the opening of schools on March 1 for preschool, Year One and Two as well as on March 8 for Year Three to Six as the move was proven successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19 with no cases recorded in primary schools throughout the period.

However, they emphasised that the situations have changed in Sibu, Kuching and Bintulu where a few schools were closed while teachers and students have to be quarantined and screened.

“It is clear that the right and fast decision of YB (Lee) then has successfully contained the (Covid-19) situation from worsening in Miri.

“It cannot be denied that education is important for our children but full reopening of schools with physical classes in rash during the peak of the pandemic is feared will have a bad implication on all.”

Hence, the Group pointed out the need to review the plan on full reopening of schools in Miri which should be delayed until the Covid-19 situation in the District is under control. — DayakDaily