PETALING JAYA: All parties should follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and encourage children to abide by it with the reopening of schools early next March, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
The Alliance for Safety Community Chairman said this following the reopening of schools announcement by Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin on Friday (Feb 19).
According to Lee, many parents, teachers and students have reacted positively to the announcement that education normalcy will return in stages.
He urged all parties to follow the SOPs and encourage the children to do so, including outside the school.
“Parents, teachers and the community have also been urged to help, wherever they can, to guide the children to follow the new SOPs, including during non-school hours.
“The staggered approach in the return to schools is the best option so that schools can gradually accept the students and ensure that all will follow the SOPs laid down by the ministries of education and health, ” he said in a statement on Saturday (Feb 20).
Lee also highlighted the need to consider additional compensation to teachers as new frontliners who will need to bear extra responsibilities in handling students, utilising spaces and school premises' hygiene.
“The mental health of children is another important issue that the authorities must make provision for.
“Teachers will have the additional task of checking the children’s home environment so as to ensure any undue stress does not spill over to schools, and vice-versa, ” he said.
Lee said that the Education Ministry needs to also consider introducing a new subject on community safety and health as a new curriculum.
“Parents, or even teachers who unwittingly flout SOPs must not, in the first instance, be subjected to punitive measures, ” Lee said, suggesting that they should be counselled and assisted instead.
To ease the educators and school principals' movements from home to schools and even to medical institutions, Lee suggested that they should be given special car stickers.
“It is also important to introduce new SOPs to cover unforeseen circumstances, like the re-imposition of lockdowns if henceforth there is a resurgence in the number of Covid-19 infections, ” he said.
The school reopening announcement was much anticipated especially by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), following the survey made last year where 93% of 10,500 respondents preferred a face-to-face teaching session.
Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin had announced the reopening of schools nationwide in stages which welcomes students beginning with preschoolers and primary school pupils starting March 1.
On the other hand, the Year Three to Year Six would return on March 8, while secondary schools will begin seeing students in classrooms again after the mid-semester school holidays that begin on March 26 or 27 and ends on April 3 or 4, depending on the state.