KUCHING: The Ministry of Education (MoE) should provide a detailed set of standard operating procedures (SOP) in preparation for any eventuality as schools are reopening.
In this respect, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii believes that having clearer instructions would foster better compliance among all parties including the students, the teachers and the parents.
“That’s why I believe that even with this important announcement (of reopening schools), the ministry should have given a clear and precise direction pertaining to all the necessary SOPs and what must be done should there be a spread or outbreak in schools,” said the parliamentarian in a statement.
In highlighting his point, Dr Yii cited a joint study by University College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which recommended large-scale testing to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
“(The joint study) has highly recommended large-scale, population-wide testing of symptomatic individuals and effective tracing of their contacts, followed by isolation of symptomatic and diagnosed individuals – (such testing) needs to be in place to prevent a second wave (of Covid-19) as we reopen our schools,” he added.
Specifically, Dr Yii said the research had claimed that 51 per cent of those with symptomatic infections needed to be tested to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections, along with tracing two-fifths of their contacts and isolating those who were symptomatic and had been diagnosed.
“So, I hope the MoE and Ministry of Health have done all the necessary preparations and simulations, and have formulated the necessary precautions in our local context for any eventuality so that we would always be prepared,” he said, adding that such preparations needed to be communicated to all, including parents, so that the children would be prepared before going back to school.
The MP also proposed for the MoE to also engage with the parent-teacher associations (PTAs) or school boards in obtaining their input on which operation model would best suit their respective schools.
“The ministry has introduced three main models of opening, based on the size and density of each school. But I believe the input from the teachers, parents and also board members would be useful so that all stakeholders would be included in this important decision.”
Dr Yii said with the announcement of reopening schools, the necessary steps and SOPs must be implemented and enforced properly to allay fears of both parents and students.
The MP also pointed out that there were many students in Sarawak, both in the urban and rural areas, who had been left out in their studies, even with the introduction of ‘home-based’ learning.
This was due to them not having or unable to purchase a computer or television, aside from the lack of guidance in using all the learning materials.
In underlining this scenario, Dr Yii quoted a state minister who once said that 50 per cent of the students in Sarawak did not have access to the Internet, or the required devices for online learning.
“Such issue needs to be addressed immediately,” he added.