Saturday, January 16

Peninsula teachers returning to Sarawak laud state govt’s Covid-19 measures

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Teachers from the peninsula ariving at the Miri Airport recently. – Photo by Suraya Harun

MIRI (Jan 13): Teachers from Peninsular Malaysia returning to Sarawak for the 2021 school session, which starts on Jan 20, have praised the state government for its approach in combating Covid-19.

Suraya Harun, 35 from Terengganu, said the state government had placed them under a 10-day quarantine in a hotel here immediately upon their arrival two days ago.

“Honestly, I’m thankful to the effort and services rendered by the Sarawak government to teachers from West Malaysia. We are quarantined in a comfortable hotel and the cost is fully borne by the Sarawak government,” she said when contacted today.

Suraya Harun

The teacher at a school in Taman Tunku added that this was the first time she was quarantined in a hotel instead of her own house.

“At the moment we are still under 10 days quarantine and we will undergo several more health check-ups. If our test is negative, we will be allowed to return to our own house (here) and continue another four days quarantine there,” she explained.

Suraya who has been teaching in Sarawak for nine years and can speak Bahasa Sarawak fluently said she did not feel inconvenienced by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to enter Sarawak.

“We understand the intention of the Sarawak government in imposing these strict regulations on West Malaysians entering Sarawak, it is to prevent the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As teachers, we are thankful that the government of Sarawak is paying for the cost of our quarantine, and this indirectly also lessens our burden as educators,” she said.

Relating her experience when arriving at Miri Airport, Suraya said they were escorted by the police as well as other enforcement agencies to their quarantine hotel.

“We can clearly see on the face of the frontliners that they were exhausted, but that did not stop them from giving friendly services to us teachers who are undergoing quarantine,” she recalled.

According to her, the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak was very much different from West Malaysia where health facilities like hospitals as well as transportation and other facilities were limited.

“Imagine if Covid-19 is active in the rural areas, it would be a burden for rural folks as hospitals are limited, plus high cost of logistics and transportation.

“Because of this, we teachers follow strictly whatever SOPs set by the Sarawak government is curbing the spread of Covid-19,” she stressed.

Another teacher from Shah Alam, Selangor, who arrived in Miri four days ago shared similar view with Suraya.

Devasara N Vasudevan

Devasara N Vasudevan, 55, has been teaching in a secondary school here the last eight and a half years.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration to SDMC (State Disaster Management Committee), KKM (Ministry of Health) Rela, police, airport staff and (quarantine) hotel management for their untiring effort in ensuring a smooth flow in welcoming us back to Miri..

“Firstly, although my ticket to fly back was changed at the eleventh hour, my application to enter Sarawak was approved and travelling back into Sarawak was a breeze,” said Devasara.

According to her, she rarely traveled alone because she always had the jitters of missing announcements or worse, missing her flights, which had happened in the past.

“But this time, once I touched down in Miri, we were all guided well and the officers were all extremely polite and I love the smile on their faces. One KKM officer even asked if the gentleman who flew in, the day before, was my son as he had mentioned his mother teaching in SMK St Columba. That’s how meticulous they are in executing their duties.

“Although my request to be quarantined together with my son was turned down, I understood the rationale behind it as the officer, Mr Ariffin, took the trouble to explain it.

“From there, getting my passport stamped and after taking my luggages I was brought to Rela officers and my PPD (Education Department) officers. After getting my ‘bracelet’, it was so reassuring to see familiar faces among my PPD officers who were so nice to receive me and assured me that we are in the best hands .

Devasara said the whole procedure took some time and she reminded future batches coming into Sarawak to remember to eat something beforehand or to clear their bladder before going through it.

“This is necessary as correct documentation is important. As I am a teacher, I must say that I am more than grateful for the exemption given in the cost of the accommodation plus the swab test.

“For the record, I must also extend my appreciation to the lady Rela officer who assisted me with my three big luggages to my room.

“In my room, I noticed that the bathroom sink was clogged and the TV was not in good order. I called the room service and I was immediately transferred to another room that has a view of the town and the sea,” she said.

She added that their three daily meals are always on time and even her request for extra towels and tissues were always granted with a smile from a distance as observation of SOP is strictly carried out at the hotel.

“It’s my fourth day here (in quarantine) and another 10 days to go. Only my son and I are residing in Miri now. My son is doing his third year Mechanical Engineering in UM (Universiti Malaya) and since it’s online classes he stays with me here in Miri,” she added.

Devasara said her whole family were all residing in Miri previously but her daughter had left to do her chambering in Kuala Lumpur and her husband left to take up his new posting in Kuala Lumpur.

“If the power is within me I would really like to teach here till I retire but as a dutiful wife to my husband and a daughter to my mom, I have to go back to Selangor. My transfer order is out and becomes effective in April,” said the mother of two.