PETALING JAYA: Schools look set to reopen as scheduled with the majority of teachers having received their first vaccination shot.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said the Sept 1 target for schools to reopen in stages is achievable.
“A high number of our members, especially the Form Five teachers, have been vaccinated.
“We are also writing in to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to give priority to lecturers in polytechnics and community colleges under the Education Ministry,” he said, adding that the union is thankful that teachers have been given priority for vaccination.
Not everyone, however, is comfortable with the idea of returning to school just yet.
A father who only wanted to be known as Mike said it is still risky for children and parents.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe. It might trigger another wave unless schoolchildren are fully vaccinated, as vaccinated teachers and support staff are just part of the picture,” he added.
Mother-of-two J. Kausalya echoed Mike’s concerns, sharing how a parent from her son’s school had succumbed to Covid-19, while the rest of the family tested positive.
“A teacher’s husband, too, passed away due to Covid-19. These families live in the same area as us, so it’s very worrying.
“My son had to test himself twice after the boy who sits next to him in class tested positive.
“It was a traumatic experience,” she said, adding that she would not send her Form Three son to school when it reopens.
Fauzia Sultan is anxious over the reopening of schools when cases are still so high.
“It is nerve-wracking for parents. A rushed decision to send them back could put teachers and students at grave risk.
“The ministry should focus on the most important group – the Form Five students – who need to prepare for the upcoming SPM exams,” she said, adding that teachers, students and all support staff must be fully vaccinated before schools are reopened.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said that while it is a good move to reopen schools, he cautioned the Education Ministry to ensure that students’ safety and health are prioritised. This is to avoid any mishaps, he added.
“It’s commendable that all teachers and support staff are being vaccinated, but we must also ensure that parents transporting students and transporters are also vaccinated,” he said.
On Wednesday, Khairy said all teachers and support staff will receive at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before face-to-face schooling sessions begin.
He said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force and the Education Ministry are identifying the number of teachers and related support staff to schedule their first vaccination appointments.
He said that as of Tuesday (July 27), a total of 303,682, or 73.5%, of teachers nationwide had received one vaccination shot.
“A total of 45,197 support staff (67%) and 33,633 contract support services employees (38%) (at government schools) have received at least one vaccination shot, while for private schools, 12,894 teachers (66.4%) have received at least one vaccination shot.
“The Education Minister and I give our assurance that all education staff will be vaccinated before school starts,” he said when winding up the session on questions from MPs at the Dewan Rakyat.
In April, Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin said detailed data mapping and plans on how to tighten the standard operating procedures are being conducted.