Messy end to first day of school

Bumper to bumper: Traffic building up as parents drop off and pick up their children at SK Convent Green Lane in Jalan Hamilton, Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: It was chaotic for some schools as secondary students returned in full force.

Crowd control, parents said, was a major issue.

The downpour led to jams outside several schools as students waited for their transport to go home.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said while students and teachers attempted to comply with the standard operating procedure, the situation was less than ideal in some schools.

Controlling the large volume of students at the end of the school day was poor, he said.

“Parents informed me that some schools did not allow them to enter the compound, so many of them gathered outside the gate.

“Some schools staggered the dismissal of classes. It seemed chaotic, but the teachers managed the crowd.

“Our concerns as parents are whether schools will be able to manage the huge volume of students while ensuring they comply with the SOP, ” he added.

Mak said parents must also be considerate and not gather outside the school.

He said they should follow their children’s dismissal time and wait in their cars instead of crowding the area.

“Most schools allocate drop-off and pick-up points.”

All secondary school students resumed schooling yesterday after five months, starting with those in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu on Sunday.

All five million students are now back in school in full force.

Schools nationwide started welcoming back students as early as March 1 with preschoolers and pupils in Years One and Two the first to be assigned back. This was followed by Year Three to Six a week later.

A parent who only wanted to be known as Kogi said it was scary to watch how her sons’ school dispersed their students as the situation went out of hand.

“It was as though they had forgotten about social distancing, ” she said.

However, she said there was no issue, according to her son, during school hours.

A check by The Star at a school in Kajang found that while students followed the SOP, it was difficult for the school to ensure social distancing due to the large number of parents dropping off the students.

Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that some schools did not conduct teaching and learning yesterday because they faced an inadequate number of teachers to do the job.

“I’ve been made to understand that teachers were transferring between schools ahead of this reopening, ” she said.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said some schools sought the help of the Malaysian Volunteer Corps to manage the crowd.

“Some schools opened up all their gates to allow for a smoother flow of traffic when dispersing students.

Kolej Yayasan Saad, Melaka, Form Five student Aina Alyssa Sazali said her school, on the other hand, pulled all the stops to ensure the students study and leave school safely.

Although the situation was “slightly disorderly” when school ended, Aina said this was due to the heavy rain.

Meanwhile, Education director-general Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim visited SMK Kulim, SMK Sultan Badlishah and PPD Kulim Bandar Baharu, all in Kedah, to see how the schools were coping with the new Covid-19 arrangement to restart classes.

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