PETALING JAYA: Schools have fully reopened for the first time since the movement control order (MCO) was implemented on March 18.
The final phase of the reopening today involves Years One to Four pupils.
The youngest in the schooling system return to schools, but adjusting to the new normal should not be a problem for them, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said.
“Preschoolers and kindergarteners too have returned, and there haven’t been any issues so far, ” NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan said.
“It may be difficult at first but it’s not impossible as teachers will do their best to instil the importance of health.
“Additionally, I am sure they would have realised something amiss if they saw adults wearing masks regularly and maintaining a social distance with people around them; children will imitate this behaviour.”
Tan reminded students and schools to not take the pandemic lightly, now that it’s all systems go for schools.
Like Tan, some teachers and headmasters are confident their young charges will adapt well despite being away for four months.
Agreeing with him is a primary school teacher who said the preschoolers in her school have been following the standard operating procedure (SOP) completely.
“Therefore, I believe it would be the same for the Years One to Four pupils.
“We conducted various programmes online during the movement control order period with our pupils to educate them on the importance of wearing masks, washing their hands with soap and maintaining social distancing, ” said the teacher, who only wants to be known as Devi.
Over the past month, teachers and headmasters have been briefing and sending text messages to parents to keep them informed about the SOP and rules that their children will have to adhere to.
At SK Kangkong in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, English language teacher Tan Joce Ik said many of the Years One to Four pupils also have older siblings in Years Five and Six who are aware of the dos and don’ts.
“I trust that they pass our messages to their children and siblings, and educate them on the health protocols.
“Although they are young, especially the Year One pupils, we have a certain level of trust that they will adhere to the SOP, ” she said, adding that teachers must continuously educate pupils about the new norm.
Her school houses 194 Years One to Four pupils, and a total of 350 pupils, including preschoolers.
Syed Zulkafli Syed Abdul Karim, headmaster of SK Putra in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan, started preparing two weeks ago to welcome back his pupils.
The school, he said, houses a total of 140 pupils, most of whom belong to the Temuan orang asli tribe.
“We have 91 pupils from Years One to Four. From time to time, we send their parents messages to keep them informed about the SOP under the new normal.
“We’ve even briefed them face-to-face, so I’m confident that their children will be able to handle the changes, ” he said.
Janice (not her real name), whose Year One daughter returns to school today, said the school organised a Google Classroom meet last night.
“The teachers briefed us about which gates are designated for parents and transporters respectively to drop off the pupils.
“It’s very organised; the children are also told to only bring their activity and exercise books as textbooks will be put up on slides in each classroom.
“This is to reduce the number of books they bring to school.
“Each Year ends school at slightly different times as well, starting with the Year Ones, ” she added.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin, however, is sceptical about the reopening of schools.
As manpower differs in each school, he voiced his concerns over whether schools will be able to continuously ensure pupils will practise social distancing and follow the SOP before, during and after school.
“Some might get relaxed about the SOP.
“It would be good if officials from the Education Ministry visit schools unannounced to see what the real scenario is, ” he added.
On July 1, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that schools would reopen in stages starting from July 15.
This included Form One to Four students, Year Five and Six pupils, remove class students and Form Six Semester 1 students.
He said Years One to Four pupils would return on July 22.
On June 24,500,440 Form Five, Form Six, Sijil Vokasional Malaysia and Sijil Tinggi Agama students from 2,440 schools and hundreds of international schools nationwide returned to school.
Mohd Radzi said the decision to reopen schools for the other students was made after consulting the Health Ministry and National Security Council.