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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Jan 10: For most of 2020 and 2021, Sarawak students’ school lessons were conducted differently from previous years.
Instead of going to classes physically, students had to turn on their laptops, or mobile phones from 8am and sit between five and six hours of online lessons, with breaks between classes.
Schools nationwide were closed due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was put in place as part of the country’s measures to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.
Today, the third school term for the 2021/2022 session started with parents and students excited to return to school after many months.
As agreed by two parents, online learning is not as adequate and challenging as physical classrooms.
Although they are worried that Covid-19 is not over and younger children (below 12 years old) are not vaccinated, parents were thankful to see their children attend school again.
Kenneth Kwan and Catherine Foh were thankful to see their daughters Evy, 15, and Ayla, 10, attend school in person.
Catherine said it is much more beneficial for students in terms of academics and their mental health.
“Yes, we need to protect our children from confined spaces and crowded places, but they also need to socialise, meet people, and live as normally as possible.
“Earlier, I was a little torn in between, worrying not just for Ayla, but also for the other younger students as they are not vaccinated, ” she said, adding that these children may forget about the standard operating procedures (SOPs) when they are excited seeing their friends after many months of being cooped up at home.
On the other hand, she believes that the older kids could comprehend what was happening, having better discipline.
More concerning is how the school organises the flow of classes. But after receiving regular updates and assurance from her daughters’ school, Catherine says she looked forward to seeing her daughters going back to classrooms.
“The situation has been challenging not just for us, but everyone. However, it looks like cases in Kuching or Sarawak have appeared manageable now. It is all a matter of reminding ourselves and our children on the SOPs, such as distancing, avoiding crowds, good hygiene practices, and others,” Catherine said.
Liza Jayub Abdullah and Arzlan Abdul Rahman, who have three school-going children aged 11, 7, and 4, were just as excited as their children when the government allowed physical school sessions to resume.
Liza felt that other than not being able to interact with friends and teachers, online classes also do not offer a conducive environment for students to learn and develop.
“For me, online classes have many problems. First, the learning process is not efficient. Students need a proper teacher who can effectively transmit the knowledge.
“Even with parental involvement, my husband and I are unable to effectively impart school lessons as well as proper teachers because both of us have to work while they stay at home,” Liza said, adding that last year, her eldest had to look after herself independently during online lessons at home.
They do not object to students returning to school. However, with Covid-19 still lingering around, they believe that this is something everyone has to learn to live with and that everyone should get vaccinated, follow the SOPs, and exercise caution at all times.
Sarah Insha, 15, felt more comfortable learning face-to-face because it is easier to understand her lessons.
“When I came across problems while learning from home, I asked my teachers, and while they would explain it to me, it is not the same. Sometimes it isn’t easy to understand because I am just looking at the screen. But there’s no other method, so I just went along with it. It is also quite tiresome to sit in front of the laptop for hours,” Sarah said.
Because of that, she admitted that that online classes also resulted in boredom creeping in.
“Being inside the classroom with our teachers nagging us is much livelier than staring at the four walls at home,” she added.
Additionally, Sarah missed the non-academic aspects of school, such as seeing her friends and spending weekends together working on projects or simply hanging out.
However, even if it’s on a weekly rotation basis, Sarah is content that she gets to attend physical classes. — DayakDaily