By Karen Bong
KUCHING, June 11: Reopening schools in Sarawak will present some challenges especially in sorting out students in dormitories in boarding schools to meet strict social distancing rules.
As such, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) Datuk Seri Micheal Manyin Jawong said that officers from the ministry together with personnel from the State Education Department and District Education Offices will be visiting 188 secondary schools in Sarawak to ensure preparations are done ahead of schools reopening on June 24.
“We will face many challenges including dividing students into classes. To comply with social distancing of at least one metre, one class can only cater for a maximum of 20 students,” he told a press conference on schools reopening at his ministry’s office in Baitulmakmur Building today.
While class arrangements would not be a major issue as only Form Five and Upper Six students will be returning to schools, Manyin highlighted that the challenge was in sorting out students in dormitories.
“Most of the boarding schools are in rural areas. One of the boarding schools in Sarawak has the biggest dorm in Malaysia with some 1,600 students and lack of facilities.
“Some dormitories provide individual beds but some use bunk beds. So it will be a challenge to rearrange those in the bunk beds when a large number of students are involved,” he explained.
However, Manyin gave assurance that ministry officers will be visiting all the schools starting next week to ensure schools will be prepared and comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) and guidelines issued.
“While I don’t foresee there will be an issue during the daytime but wardens will need to monitor the dorms during night time. So we will go to the schools to discuss with principals on how to address this issue.
“We are going all out to help schools implement the guidelines successfully. We want to make sure teachers and students comply with the SOP when schools reopen as well,” he said.
He assured parents that preparations will be done comprehensively for the safe return of students and teachers.
The Ministry of Education (MOE), he continued, has also provided a special allocation of RM4.6 million for schools to make necessary purchases of thermometers, hand sanitiser and general cleaning of schools.
“Schools where positive Covid-19 cases were detected have been fully sanitised. They involve two schools in Kota Samarahan and SMK Bandar Kuching here,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sarawak will comply with MOE instructions for the reopening of schools on June 24 with priority given to students sitting public and international exams including SPM, SVM, STAM and STPM.
This will involve 34,306 Form Five students and 6,782 Upper Six students in 188 secondary schools including Sekolah Agama, Technical Schools and Vocational Colleges in Sarawak. — DayakDaily