Teach children to play their part

FINALLY, all primary schools nationwide will begin operating fully without a rotating system starting today.

Group A, which covers Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, will be the first to start, followed by Group B, comprising Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya tomorrow.

This is definitely a big step forward after two years of disruptions to physical classroom learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While online classes were the way to go during the pandemic to ensure continuity in education, there is nothing like being in the physical classroom where teachers would have greater control, receive better feedback and be able to keep a closer eye on their students’ learning progress.

Children will benefit from social interaction with their peers, which we’re sure they have sorely missed, and which will help to teach them important life skills.

But with all the excitement in the air as youngsters head back to school, parents must not forget that the danger of Covid-19 – especially the easily transmissible Omicron variant – is still lurking amid us.

As Malaysia transitions to the endemic phase, there is still a need to strictly observe the basic SOP to ensure children are safe while in school.

This is especially important because infection figures among children are worrying: In a Twitter post last month, the Health Ministry pointed out a surge in the number of children (0 to 12 years) being admitted into paediatric intensive care units (PICUs).

The post revealed that child admission to PICUs in Categories Three to Five increased by 94%, Category Four admissions rose by 200% and Category Five admissions jumped by 125%.

As such, parents and teachers have a big role to play to ensure schools do not become Covid-19 clusters.

We definitely do not want to see a return to lockdowns (as China is facing now). We simply cannot afford to go down this road again as we’ve only just started to fix our broken economy.

Apart from teaching children to keep their masks on, wash their hands regularly and not share food, parents must also ensure their children are protected by vaccination.

Don’t forget, there is a deadline for kids aged between five and 12 who have yet to have their first dose to get their free vaccination by May 16, after which doses will no longer be free.

Let’s all play our part, including our children, to ensure the nation is safe and protected.

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