MOE: Schools will open as planned

Back to school: Noorazlina Adnan, 41, helping her son Fakri Aimansyah, seven, to get his schoolbag ready at her house in Rawang, Selangor, ahead of the start of the new school session this year. Looking on is her daughter Noor Adawiyah, four. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Schools will reopen on Jan 20 as scheduled despite the extension of the recovery movement control order to March 31, says the Education Ministry.

According to the ministry, all educational institutions under the purview of the ministry, registered private education institutions and international schools will follow the 2021 school term calendar as stated by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his New Year’s Day message.

“The opening will involve all education institutions nationwide including the ones in conditional MCO areas, ” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It said that all education institutions are advised to follow the Covid-19 guidelines, SOP and new norms spelt out by the authorities.

“The Education Ministry, along with the Health Ministry and the National Security Council, will continue to monitor the situation for educational institutions to ensure that the health of all is given priority, ” it added.

Parents and teachers had earlier raised concerns that the extension of the recovery MCO as announced by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri on Saturday might affect the reopening of public schools nationwide on Jan 20.

As it will be the beginning of a new school year, parents would need time to buy new uniforms, shoes and books for their children in advance before classes begin.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan said teachers should keep calm and follow the directives from the Education Ministry.

“Let the Education Ministry make the decisions by looking at data and statistics.

“All of us must give our full support to the ministry to handle the pandemic. We as teachers are sticking to our core business – that is to provide the best holistic education to our students in a safe environment, ” he said.

National Parent Teacher Association (PIBGN) president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Hassan said that he foresees parents keeping their children at home in the red zones even when school reopens on Jan 20.

He, however, suggested that due to the high number of cases, only those sitting for public examinations are allowed to be physically present in schools.

“Students who will be sitting for public examinations this year such as the SPM and STPM should be allowed to attend school as usual as there is a need for them to have a face-to-face teaching and learning environment.

“There is a reason for this extension to March 31 and that is because the Covid-19 cases are high.

“The Education Ministry should also check on the preparedness of all schools before actually allowing children to go back to schools physically.

“Seeing this, many parents will worry about sending their children to school, which is what happened last year when parents decided to keep their children at home despite the reopening of schools.

“My suggestion is that as long as the vaccine has yet to be issued in the country, students who will not be sitting for public examinations this year should continue online classes.

“Also, one must remember that vaccines would not be given to students and teachers.

“Therefore, they must be among the first group of people to be vaccinated as they are also frontliners handling hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, ” he said.

Dr Mohd Ali, who has five schoolgoing children, said he too would be cautious in sending his children to school when cases are still on the rise.

Last July, when schools reopened during the recovery MCO, the Education Ministry provided the option for parents to keep their children at home if they wanted to do so.

However, schools were forced to close again and resumed online learning in October when the number of cases rose.

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