Choice to send children to school met with cheer

PETALING JAYA: Parent groups heaved a sigh of relief at being given the option to decide whether to send their children to school.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said considering the fact that Covid-19 is a matter of life and death, parents must, rightly so, be allowed to make this decision.

“We have been urging the Education Ministry to give parents the option, as everyone has different problems and ways of looking at this issue.

“Some parents who face problems with their Internet connectivity, lack of gadgets, or simply can’t ensure their children can follow online lessons, would have no choice but to send them.

“Those who can solve these problems, however, may opt not to send,” he said.

He added that parents were, however, concerned over whether schools were able to conduct hybrid lessons to cater for all their students.

Mak also said that they would prefer to only allow vaccinated students to return once schools reopen on Oct 3 as cases were still high.

During the standard operating procedure (SOP) announcement yesterday, Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin said parents had the choice of whether they wanted to send their children to school. He said disciplinary action would not be taken, but they must write an explanation to the school if they chose not to send their children.

Schools had been advised not to give students and pupils letters of warning, he added.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said parents should not underestimate their parental instincts on this decision.

She also said that primary and secondary schools with fully vaccinated teachers should reopen immediately.

“In view of the fact that students have suffered from learning loss, we should attempt to reopen as quickly as possible. Allow schools that do not have Form Six to have their Forms Four and Five students return immediately.

“Schools that are confident in reopening should also be allowed to do so rather than wait for their turn, as they know the local situation and their students and parents better,” she added,

She stressed that students from low-income families (B40) were struggling with their studies throughout the pandemic due to various reasons, such as non-conducive learning environments.

Thus, it was vital for schools to reopen quickly and safely, she added.“It is these students who are most at risk of dropping out of school and this possibility must be eliminated at all costs,” she said.

National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Wang Heng Suan welcomed the new SOPs, saying Radzi had prioritised students’ safety.

“(He) has tried to ensure that no issues will arise later when schools reopen fully.

“The NUTP was involved in the minister’s discussion together with other experts,” he said in a statement, adding that they issued four recommendations:

> To work with the ministry to advise the 2,500 teachers who are not vaccinated as a joint venture with doctors from the Malaysian Medical Association;

> To provide tasks and guidelines for teachers and students who do not want to be vaccinated once schools reopen;

> To give schools, headmasters and principals the flexibility and autonomy to decide the best way for them to close the 2021 school session and prepare for the new school year in March 2022; and

> Since home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) are stressful for teachers, PdPR pedagogy exercises must be given emphasis by the ministry and all types of assessments and reporting should be suspended.

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