Schools told to practise social distancing by the book

SJKC Kepong (1) teachers placing red stickers in the school hallway as a mark of social distancing, according to standard operating procedures. The school is preparing for the return of other students, starting July 15.

PETALING JAYA: Primary schools are reopening and secondary schools are welcoming back their remaining students but with so many returning to school, social distancing is important to ensure no one catches Covid-19.

To maintain social distancing, the Education Ministry came up with a 36-page school reopening management guideline, released on June 4.

Early this month, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin gave three operation models for schools that would allow the comprehensive guidelines to be implemented.

He said schools could choose which operational model to use when they reopen.

However, checks by The Star showed that the majority of schools in Malaysia will be using the one session operation model (see infographic), even schools with a large student population.

This is despite the fact that Radzi said most schools in highly dense areas would be opting for the rotational model to maintain social distancing measures.

Not only that, he assured that there would be a maximum of 20 students per classroom yet parents have said that their children would be returning to classrooms with up to 40 students.

Parents have also said the school management guideline was amended from 1m distance between desks to 1m shoulder-to-shoulder distance.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (school operation sector) Adzman Talib said the majority of the schools in the country could use the one session model as the students could be spread out into the school halls, resource centres or any other available rooms.He also said that schools would only adopt the two session model if they cannot implement the one session model.

During a webinar on the ministry’s YouTube Channel EduwebTV last week, Adzman said the last option for schools was the rotational model.

He added that the rotational model was “not given arbitrarily” to any school.

“We are trying to avoid using this model, ” he said.

He added that the ministry wanted all students to be able to attend school.

“It is only for schools that have a lot of students (already in two sessions), with social distancing measures in place and all available spaces utilised, but still couldn’t accommodate all the students, ” he said.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said primary school teachers were ready to be able to teach face-to-face again.

The feeling was mutual for secondary school teachers, who will be seeing their Form One to Form Four students beginning today, he told The Star.

“They are very eager to see their students and resume teaching like normal after nearly four months, ” he added.

The teachers and schools have also done their best, with some taking extra precautionary measures in addition to the guidelines given by the ministry, to ensure their students are safe throughout the schooling day.

Tan also said everyone – from parents, to students and the entire school community – should follow all the guidelines laid down so that lessons could go on smoothly as students make their way back to school.

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