PRIVATE and international schools in Malaysia have prepared their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) in anticipation of their students returning.
These institutes have based their guidelines on those being used in foreign countries.
National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan told StarEdu its members will adopt the best practices that are being implemented in other countries as most private schools here are linked to international organisations.
He added that these schools have tapped into this network and consulted their foreign counterparts on health and safety measures to protect their students from Covid-19.
There are over 200 private and international schools in Malaysia, he said, and none are willing to put the health of their students on the line.
“We cannot put our children at risk just to save on costs. What is important is safety. We can’t be greedy for money.
“If even one cluster is detected in any of these schools, it’s a huge problem, ” he said.
Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS) chairperson Peter Wells said its members are preparing SOPs which are specific to the campuses that they have.
“They are using ideas and experiences from different countries but with a priority on health, so face masks, temperature checks and social distancing will be standard practices, ” he said, adding that the international school network globally is quite close and ideas are shared freely.
“Some AIMS schools have sister schools in other countries and are using ideas and experiences from those countries, ” he said, adding that these include Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Europe.
He also said the association, with almost 50 members consisting of the main international schools, has been in discussion with the Education Ministry on these guidelines.
“As fee charging schools, we are looking to bring children of all ages back to school with social distancing precautions in place, rather than just allowing those in the exam years to return.
“Our schools are hoping that they can control the maximum class sizes by taking into consideration the rooms available, rather than imposing a blanket limit to apply to all classrooms, ” he added.
Taylor’s Schools president BK Gan said all schools under their group have come up with social distancing SOPs based on those being used in foreign schools.
Particularly from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom, he added.
“We have been discussing how we would approach the reopening of school.
“We are also looking at what we need for hygiene and we have started stocking up on what we need, ” he added.
Schools under the group are Garden International School, Australian International School Malaysia, Taylor’s International Schools in Kuala Lumpur and Puchong and Nexus International Schools in Putrajaya and Singapore.
Prestigion K12 Group chief executive officer Dr Goh Chee Leong said international schools under the group have begun preparing for the return of their students.
He said they have taken into account what is being done in neighbouring countries like Singapore, which has already put in place health and safety SOPs for their schools.
“The Prestigion K12 Group which manages Sri KDU, REAL Schools and REAL Kids have already begun our own preparations to ensure that all our campuses and centres will be safe and ready to reopen when the time comes, ” he said.
He said these include changing the physical layout to ensure social distancing, purchasing sanitising equipment and preparing new standard operating health protocols.
GEMS International School Tropicana Metropark principal Anthony Partington said they have prepared guidelines based on what is being used in their home country, the United Arab Emirates.
The school has also picked out methods being used in neighbouring Singapore, where they also have a campus.
Among the measures listed in their guidelines are the compulsory wearing of masks and having staggered entry and exit points to minimise students from congregating.
These, Partington added, are the same methods to be implemented in Singapore’s schools.
“When the coronavirus outbreak happened, we immediately got our SOPs in place for the school including conducting temperature checks and cleaning the classrooms, ” he said.
Partington said although they have created their own guidelines, they will use the government’s official guidelines for all schools under their purview, including private and international schools.
“We will put these measures in place and make sure we are ready when schools reopen.”
On Thursday, the Education Ministry released its school reopening management guidelines which were developed together with the Health Ministry and the National Security Council.
Practices students must adopt when schools reopen, based on the ministry’s guidelines, include temperature screening before entering schools and eating in the classroom during recess.
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