PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 cases and clusters connected to educational institutions under the Education Ministry (KPM) form a small percentage of the nation’s total figures.
Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Md Jidin said there were a total of 99 educational institution-related clusters in the country that had a total of 6,549 cases at the moment.
The number of clusters formed in educational institutions within the ministry stood at 52 with a total of 2,274 cases.
“The nation’s total sporadic cases at the moment stands at 60.8%, while those linked to clusters are 39.2%. The KPM cluster is only 4.8%, ” Radzi said.
“Clusters formed in educational institutions are wide as these include higher education institutions, schools under state governments, private schools and kindergartens.
“Not all these components are under our ministry’s operation and fall under the total 10,000 schools we have, ” he said yesterday.
Among those present were his deputies Datuk Mah Hang soon and Muslimin Yahya.
He said while many took jibes at him for remaining mum on this issue, he said the ministry was looking at the data to drill down to the core of the matter.
Data they received would be studied in detail, he added.
“Boarding schools have 25 clusters with 1,559 cases, while day schools have 22 clusters with 585 cases, which is not even 1% of the total clusters.
“People are discussing whether schools need to be closed. If you look at the data, what do you think?” he asked, adding that based on teachers’ and students’ feedback, the latter enjoyed studying face-to-face.The ministry’s biggest challenge, he said, was how to minimise transmission of the virus with the existing standard operating procedures (SOP) in boarding schools.
The ministry, he said, looked at areas that were the main contributing factors and narrowed it down to boarding schools.
When asked how many schools nationwide have been ordered to close due to Covid-19 cases, Radzi said the ministry was not able to provide a definite number as the figures kept changing daily.
“The total cases under KPM is lesser compared to other institutions, ” he said.
“SOPs somehow work but in some cases compliance is not satisfying. It’s not perfect but generally, SOPs are implemented well, ” he said.
He said detailed data mapping and plans on how to tighten the SOPs are conducted.
The easy way out is for the ministry to close schools, he said, but questioned whether it was the right decision.
He said schools were a place for students, especially those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, to not only receive an education, but to meet teachers and friends, and to receive Supplementary Food Programme, for example.
“If data shows the situation is such that we have to close (schools), then we will do so accordingly.
“But as of now, we are committed to ensuring schools will continue in a safe environment.”
Meanwhile, Radzi said schools with even one positive case detected must close immediately for a two-day sanitisation. And they must inform their respective state education departments (JPN) as well as district education offices (PPD).
The district health office (PKD) will then decide whether the entire school needs to be shut down, or just the affected classroom, building or floor, he said.
Radzi also said if parents did not want to send their children to school, they could do so but they should write a letter to the school explaining their reason.
Commenting on the viral incident where a teacher allegedly joked about and trivialised rape, Radzi said the matter had been reported to the police, the ministry can’t be too involved. “We will, however, continue to investigate this matter.”
While Radzi condemned the actions of schools reportedly carrying out “period spot checks”, he also said he had not received information on the matter.
“Can anyone tell me in which school this happened?”