Prioritise vaccination for teachers before reopening schools, urge educators

IPOH: Teachers at all levels should be vaccinated as soon as possible before the government deems it safe for schools to be reopened.

Some educators who spoke to The Star felt that teachers have a higher risk of being exposed to the Covid-19 as they would share the same space with a possible coronavirus carrier in school when it reopens.

SMK St Michael principal Sit Wai Yin said a fellow teacher or a student could have been infected and does not show any symptoms.

"This could create unnecessary risks to the teachers and also to the students.

"Teachers should be vaccinated because they are the frontliners of the education sector," he said when contacted.

He said about 35 out of 125 teachers at the school have been vaccinated.

"They are the ones with high risks and with comorbidities.

"It is advisable to have all teachers, office and laboratory workers to be vaccinated before school reopens," he said, adding that the school also has six office workers and eight laboratory assistants.

"I also hope there will be more contact tracing, mass testing and vaccination to overcome this pandemic," he added.

Perak Education and Higher Education Committee chairman Ahmad Saidi Mohamad Daud had on Monday (June 14) said that the state would give priority to some 40,000 teachers and educators in the state to be vaccinated.

According to the standard operating procedures during lockdown, all schools under the Education Ministry are to be closed with lessons conducted via online.

As for kindergartens and daycare centres, these are also not allowed to operate except for those with children whose parents are frontliners and work in the essential services sectors.

Kindergarten academic head M. Puvanes said the kindergarten was looking after some children of frontliners and it was important for all her employees to be vaccinated.

"Half of my team, about 10 of us aged 40 and above, have received our first dose but the younger ones have not got theirs.

"Some of the teachers are teaching from home via online while some are at the kindergarten," she said, adding that they deal with children ages two to six.

"Even if we follow the SOP strictly, it is still possible for some of the children's parents to unknowingly come into contact with an infected person when they are out to buy things or attend to some matters.

"Their children could be infected and therefore pose a risk for us," she added.

SK Manjoi Satu teacher Nurul Ain Jamaluddin Al Amini, 31, said being vaccinated would help them feel protected.

"It reduces the chance of us getting infected or to spread them.

"We not only deal with the pupils but are also involved with the community," she said.

She said only a portion of teachers at her school have been notified and completed their vaccination.

"About eight to 10 teachers have completed their vaccination but 20 others are still waiting," she added.

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