IT’S almost four weeks since students returned to school after undergoing five months of home-based teaching and learning or PdPR (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Di Rumah) due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Although students, and their parents as well, are happy to be back in their classrooms, many are wondering why physical education and co-curricular activities are still being prohibited.
Paragraph 8.2.1 of the standard operating procedure and operations of schools in the new normal 2.0 directive, which was sent to all schools in February this year, clearly states that face-to-face sports and co-curricular outdoor activities, including physical education, are allowed. Our students returned to school on March 8, and we had physical education slotted in the timetable. What is intriguing is that on March 9, some officials from the Education Ministry visited the school and cautioned the management against holding any form of outdoor activities.
When shown the school’s compliance with the SOP prescribed by the Education Ministry, the officials told the management team to comply with the ministry’s overriding circular dated Oct 21,2020 (KPM.100-1/3/1 Jld. 3 (92), which prohibited outdoor sports activities.
The daily flip-flop on the SOP certainly creates much confusion among the general public. An example can be seen with commuters queuing up for public transport in strict compliance with physical distancing. However, the SOP does not seem to apply once passengers are on board, standing shoulder to shoulder in a packed coach.
The morning sun and physical activities are two important components that contribute to the development of our immune system. It is therefore perplexing that physical education and co-curricular activities are not allowed in school.
If physical distancing is the main concern, there are many activities that can be carried out while maintaining the required distance apart. By the way, competitions with spectators watching are allowed from this month onwards.
Furthermore, keeping the students in the classroom during physical education and co-curricular activity periods is very challenging and to a large extent unhealthy. It makes the students very restless.
Being an avid sportsman myself, I am appealing to the Education Ministry to consider allowing schools to carry out physical education and co-curricular outdoor activities soon and to get more sunshine to enhance the immune system. After all, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”