PUTRAJAYA: State education departments should discuss with the Education Ministry before making any decision pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said while the government was aware that schools and parents were concerned about infectivity in schools, it was better for the department at the state level to discuss the matter with the Education Ministry.
“Whatever measures the state education department wants to take, be it to close or reopen schools, to partially open, do discuss it with the ministry, ” he said yesterday.
The Star had reported that education stakeholders, though concerned for the health and safety of teachers and students, believe a blanket nationwide closure of schools should only be as a last resort.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba was reported to have said an increase in movement during the early April school holidays, social gatherings and interstate travel contributed to the rise of Covid-19 clusters and cases in the education sector.
As of Wednesday, there were 53 active clusters out of almost 90 that have cropped up since Jan 1 in the sector.
Educational institutions recorded a total of 4,868 Covid-19 infections from Jan 1 to April 20.
Based on the risk assessment by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council, he said rules on interstate travel need to be further tightened but did not elaborate.
“I want to state that interstate travel is still not allowed. We know that the people will not like this but it needs to be enforced to stop the infectivity of Covid-19, ” he said,
Between Dec 20 and April 20,38 cross-border clusters involving 5,471 cases were recorded, he said.
He said interstate travel clusters had also caused green zones such as Kelantan to turn red.
Ismail Sabri also said the National Security Council supported the stand by the Health Minister and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani on the issue.
Last week, the Health Ministry proposed that interstate travel for the Aidilfitri celebrations be postponed as the Covid-19 transmission rate is still at a worrying level while Acryl Sani was reported to have said that interstate movement for employment, medical and educational purposes was only allowed from Monday to Thursday.
Interstate travel for emergency and bereavement purposes would only involve immediate family members while interstate travel for social purposes such as attending wedding receptions and other types of functions and banquets is prohibited.