School closures the talk of the town again

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry’s announcement that it will not hastily order the closure of schools and that any such move would depend on the advice of the district health office, has met with mixed reaction.

Some said that students cannot hide from Covid-19 forever, while others pointed out that the pandemic must not be taken lightly.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the country cannot afford to close all schools like before.

“Online learning is still not ideal, while TV Pendidikan cannot replace formal learning. There are also mental health issues of students that cannot be underestimated, ” she said.

However, educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the authorities must realise that Covid-19 is not like dengue.

“Any decision should be taken in the interest of the children, ” he said, arguing that some children may be more prone to diseases.

“Therefore, this decision should be well thought out, instead of bulldozing it through just to please certain parties, ” he added.

Earlier in Arau, Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin said any closure of schools, whether fully or partly, would be done on the advice of the district health office.

“Schools where positive Covid-19 cases have been detected will only be closed after a risk analysis and assessment, ” Bernama quoted him as saying after the Jelajah Malaysia Prihatin programme with parent-teacher associations in Perlis at the Arau Civic Hall yesterday.

Radzi said the district health office would be able to gauge the situation better after carrying out an in-depth analysis on the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the area.

“In this context, if the district health office decides that a certain class must be closed, then we will close that class.

“Likewise, should they say a certain floor needs to be closed, then we will close that floor, ” he said.

Radzi said should the district health office recommend the entire school be closed, only then would the Education Ministry order the closure.

Meanwhile, National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said the union agrees with the new announcement by the ministry as long as standard operating procedure is followed.

Tan also said the teaching and learning process has to go on even if schools are closed as teachers can teach from home, saying that this was practised before schools were reopened.

National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Hassan said the ministry made the right move in the announcement.

“Local authorities and the district health office must act fast and carry out the necessary risk analysis quickly and advise the district education office to take immediate action, such as temporary closure, ” he said.

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