Wee: Safe to reopen schools in phases with precaution, safety measures

Datuk Richard Wee

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 5: As the Covid-19 situation continues to improve, it should be safe to begin a phased reopening of schools in Sarawak with precaution, careful planning, as well as tight health and safety measures in place.

Highlighting this, the Management Board of Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools No. 1, 3 and 4 chairman Datuk Richard Wee said that reopening of schools is a national issue which needs to be properly coordinated.

“If the guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOP) are implemented and enforced to keep children safe, and now that the Covid-19 curve seemed to have flattened, I think it should be safe enough for schools to resume,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today.

He was commenting on schools getting ready to reopen safely post Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) following the release of the Schools Reopening Management Guidelines by the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday (June 4).

There is no specific date yet for the resumption of schools across the country but MOE said that the notice will be announced two weeks in advance.

On the MOE’s guidelines, Wee pointed out that the Sarawak government is currently studying the guidelines for preparation, response, necessity for review and implementation.

“Nevertheless, we will follow the MOE’s guidelines and SOP and will try our best to conform.

“But in the event that there are any issues and needs to be clarified, we will engage them,” he said.

Wee added that Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools (CHMS) No. 1, 3 and 4 have not started preparing for the safe return of students as planning and discussions are still ongoing.

“All administrative and support staff in schools have returned to work except teachers.

“We have been and are still discussing ways to comply with the SOP, on the number of periods per day as well as morning and afternoon sessions option. All these possibilities, options and recommendations are being discussed to carry out careful planning,” he explained.

Noting that priority will be given to students in Form Five and Six who will be taking the public examinations of SPM, SVM, STPM and STAM when schools reopen, Wee assured that schools will have ample classrooms even when social distancing rules are applied to cater for these batches of students.

“We are not worried about these arrangements because classes will resume in stages so we can split the students to limit the capacity in classrooms.

“The challenge is when all levels of school fully resume and all students including those not taking public examinations are back to schools,” he said.

Among the new normal to be observed when schools resume according to MOE guidelines are taking body temperature upon arrival at school gate, eating individually in class during recess time, staged recess period, personal hygiene, mandatory to set up isolation room, social distancing in and outside of classroom including teachers’ room and traffic guidance for walking paths.

As for schools with hostel facilities, social distancing rules will be strictly applied with beds placed one metre away from each other as well as when eating together in a hall. -DayakDaily