Schools with many students to face teething problems

PETALING JAYA: Schools with high enrolment are going to find it challenging to adjust to the “new norm”, say teachers.

Teachers are concerned about implementing some of the Education Ministry’s school reopening management guidelines which were developed together with the Health Ministry and the National Security Council.

Although the official detailed guidelines – reported to be 34 pages long – have yet to be released, many are anxious about effective compliance.

Kolej Tingkatan Enam Sri Istana teacher Chandrika Menon said the Klang college’s enrolment was high, with some classes having more than 30 students.

“It will have an impact as we have to ensure there are enough classes to place these students in because we have to split the classes as per the ministry’s guidelines of having tables one metre apart.

“We will also have to worry about the new batch of lower Form Six students because we currently face a shortage of infrastructure, such as insufficient classes and isolation rooms, ” she said.

“The new norm will take a while for teachers to get used to, ” she said, adding that teething problems were bound to occur in order to ensure the well-being of students and staff.

“We do not have enough workers or guards to help out, ” she said.

“We will adhere to the guidelines but as our students are young adults, we hope they too will take responsibility for their own health and follow the ministry’s guidelines.” Relieved that the main points in the guidelines were out, she said the college started making preparations early to facilitate lessons once schools reopen.

Meanwhile, teachers must be at their place of duty and ready to work after the mid-year holidays scheduled to end on June 7 and 8, Education Ministry deputy director-general (school operation sector) Adzman Talib said yesterday.

“Instruction letters for teachers to return to work may be issued by their respective head of departments, ” he said in a circular to department heads and state education directors.

Among the practices students must adopt when schools reopen, based on the ministry’s guidelines, including temperature screening before entering schools and eating in the classroom during recess, Bernama reported (see info-graphics).Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the guidelines stipulated that teachers would carry out body temperature checks when students entered the school compound and if they showed any symptom, further action would be taken.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the guidelines should be tightened wherever and whenever possible.

“Students must be continually reminded of the need to conform, ” she said, pointing out that some schools do not have the luxury of space to accommodate teachers and students within the stipulated distance.

She said some parents might be forced to send their children to school even when they think the guidelines were not good enough.

“For example, parents who think that online learning and teaching attempts are ineffective would still send their kids to school.

“Learning for some subjects have been non-existent since mid-March. Some teachers did not attempt to reach out to their students, ” she said.

“The government must seriously think about investing heavily in digital learning not just for now but for the future.”

A Form Six teacher, who only wants to be known as Koo, said due to the large student population in his school, it would take time for them to record the students’ temperature and arrange them to enter the canteen in stages.

“The teachers’ burden will increase but we will do our best to provide our students a safe environment to be in, ” he said.

“As a teacher, I am taking a risk but my school is prepared and I want to see my students progress so I’m willing to sacrifice.”

A Form Five teacher from a school in Melaka said it would be tough to manage and adjust to the new guidelines.

Her school has 30 to 40 students per class.

She foresees the teachers’ workload increasing with the additional measures they are tasked with implementing.

“I’m also worried about possibly contracting Covid-19 when I come into contact with my students but if schools, teachers and students are able to follow the guidelines as requested, I believe the situation will be under control, ” she said.

A mother of four, who wanted to be known as Premah, said the guidelines sound “quite comprehensive” but whether they could be successfully executed would depend on the students themselves.

“Change doesn’t come easy... The new norm will be difficult to practise if students are not cooperative. Even if the guidelines are perfect, it is pointless if students do not comply, ” she said.

Noting that parents play an important role in making their children understand the need to comply with the standard operating procedure, the housewife said parents should not push their responsibility to teachers.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said adjustments could be made as only Forms Five and Six students would return to school at the moment.

“Schools can readjust teachers’ workload so as to cater to the needs of the guidelines, ” he said.

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