Friday, September 18

Mixed reactions from students, parents as schools reopen after three months (Video)

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KUCHING: Both students and parents had mixed reactions when schools reopened today for students sitting for public examinations this year after almost three months of closure due to Covid-19.

Although most parents are still worried about Covid-19, they said that they will monitor the progress of the reopening of schools for a week.

A St Thomas Secondary School student’s body temperature is taken by a staff before being allowed to enter the school.

A parent, Reynold Antonio Lingga, 43 said he was still worried but at the same time felt relieved that his son, Javier Reynold, who is a SMK St Joseph Kuching student, was finally going back to school after a long break.

Reynold who is from Kapit and works for a corporate company, said his son was excited to go back to school because he couldn’t wait to meet his friends.

“Today is only the first day so I am not sure what is the development from here. We will see how it goes this week.

“But I am thankful because my son is already in secondary school, so basically I do not worry much about his well-being, compared to other children who are still in pre-school or kindergarten. How will the teachers control these little children?” he said.

St Thomas Secondary School students adhere to social distancing when queuing up to enter the school.

Meanwhile, Javier when asked on his preparedness to be in school today, he said he was very excited after staying at home for about three months.

“I am in Form 5 this year and will be sitting for my SPM exams which I am looking forward to if the schedule doesn’t change. I am very excited to be in school today because I want to meet my friends whom I have not met for quite a while,” he added.

Another parent, Norbaini Wasli, 45, said the first thing that she prepared for her 17-year-old son this morning – who is also a student of SMK St Joseph Kuching – was an extra face mask, and hand sanitiser.

“Besides preparing food to be brought to school as they are allowed to only have their break in the class, I also prepared an extra supply of face masks and sanitiser for him.

A student of St Thomas Secondary School passing through the ‘disinfection chamber’ that is set up in the school.

“Of course, I am worried about my son’s safety, even though he is excited.  Because of the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 situation, you feel scared.

“That’s why I keep reminding him to wash his hands frequently, use hand sanitiser, wear a face mask and only have his food in the class,” she added.

For Form 6 student Ivan Chua, who is also from SMK St Joseph, the new normal was something that everyone had to get used to.

“It is definitely going to be different, in order to break the Covid-19 chain of infection, we have to adhere to the SOP and get used to the new normal.

“Definitely, there will be changes in our lifestyle in order not to create a new cluster, and taking care of ourselves is important,” said 19-year-old Chua.

Kueh screening the body temperature of a student outside the school today.

SMK St Joseph Kuching discipline teacher Chatina Kueh said most students who arrived at the school this morning were aware of the new normal.

“Most students adhere to the SOP but they are also a few slowly adapting to the new normal,” Kueh added.

Kueh said students who arrived at the school had to undergo body temperature screenings, have their names recorded and were asked to wash their hands before entering class, adding that teachers and staff entering the school were also required to do the same.

Meanwhile, the principal of SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg Affida Helmi said notices regarding the SOP for the school’s reopening had been put up on the school’s social media account.

“We let our students know beforehand, telling them what to expect during this time when they go to school for their health and security purposes,” she added.

SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg staff putting up the ‘Welcome back to school’ banner while Affida (right) looks on.

Affida said there would be no extracurricular activities until further notice.

She also said the school had been given the green light by the Sarawak Education Department for their Form 5 and 6 students to attend classes in stages for social distancing purposes.

“Our Form 5 students will have their sessions in the morning starting from 7am until 1pm and for the Form 6 students will have their sessions from 1.30pm until about 6pm.

Affida also said that SMK Tun Openg was one of the schools that created extra classrooms for their Form 5 and 6 students to enable social distancing among students.

“Before MCO, we used to have six classes for Form 5, and now, we have 12, whereas for Form 6, before MCO, there were four classes and now, we have eight. So in total, we have 20 classes which are in operation,” she said.

Table arrangement in St Thomas Secondary School’s classroom is done according to the Ministry of Education’s SOP.

On June 10, Senior Minister (Education) Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that secondary schools in the country would reopen in phases, first for those taking public examinations, such as Form Five students sitting for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Form Six sitting for Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) examination.

Apart from that, schools with students sitting for the Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM) and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) were also allowed to reopen.