Week-long break gives timely respite

Empty chairs at SJK(C) Keng Koon where cases were reported among pupils in the morning session. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

THE week-long school holidays are a ‘blessing in disguise’ especially for primary schools hit by positive Covid-19 cases in Penang.

Many teachers see the short break as a temporary stop-gap measure to curb the spread of the virus among pupils.

At SJK(C) Chung Hwa Pusat in Butterworth, its headmistress Loo Geok Wan said parents stopped sending their children to the school after positive Covid-19 cases were reported in a school in Simpang Ampat, Nibong Tebal.

“Although there were no positive cases in our school, the attendance dropped by almost half and we were worried.

“School will reopen next week and we look forward to better days ahead.

“The pupils’ safety is always our utmost priority.

“The short break is a welcome respite, ” she said.

The current school holidays which began on March 27 will end on April 4.

It was reported that on March 16, just a week after face-to-face classes resumed for Year Three to Year Six pupils, several positive cases were reported in primary schools.

A school in Simpang Ampat, Nibong Tebal, even registered zero attendance for its morning session at one point soon after positive Covid-19 cases were reported.

Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik said in total, 15 pupils and a teacher of the school — SJK(C) Keng Koon —tested positive for the virus.

“After the first few cases were detected, parents immediately stopped sending their children to school even before the Education Ministry issued any further instructions.

“There are 1,194 pupils in the school, with 839 of them in morning session where cases were detected.

“I thank the teachers for upholding their professionalism and soldiering on with their duty during this difficult time.

“Parents also took time off from work to look after their children as they have to self-quarantine at home.

“With all close contacts tested and the number of cases stopped at 16, hopefully the holidays will give us an added assurance that everything will resume to normal when schools reopen, ” he said.

The school was one of the two clusters in the educational institutions in the state, with Kolej Vokasional Teluk Air Tawar being the other one.

On the vocational college, Penang health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin said the Health Ministry had ordered it to be closed after 36 people tested positive for Covid-19.

She said the situation was under control as the Health Department had carried out sanitisation in the schools and isolated the students.

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