Educate Back-to-School Malaysian Primary and Preschool Kids Over Covid-19 Concerns

By the team at Speedoc,
April 06, 2021

Early this March, schools in Malaysia reopened for face-to-face classes with 1.8 million students packing their bags back for classes. The Malaysian government and education authorities opted to have primary school students return to school following strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with the help of members of the Malaysian Volunteer Corps (RELA) and parents.

The Education Director-General of Malaysia, Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, said that it is more prepared for the return of students and has in place a more comprehensive and detailed School Management and Operations Under the New Norm 2.0 Guidelines.

The ministry has taken into consideration the experiences of last year when making the decision.

Anxiety Over High Number of New Covid-19 Cases

Despite the availability and quick dispensement of several Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia, the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to hover within the boundaries of the four-figure bracket. There were 1,268 new cases reported nationwide on March 24, 2021.

The continuously high number of new cases has prompted various parents groups to suggest a rotational model where students go on an at-home and in-school rotating schedule based on the days of the week.

This view was echoed by some parents who were interviewed by The Star.

While most teachers and administrators are excited about having the children back in the school compound, they are also somewhat apprehensive about the children's ability to practise social distancing.

It was determined that online learning may not be the most effective and efficient method for young children from preschool to early Primary years. This resulted in the decision to resume face-to-face lessons despite Covid concerns.

Some parents have turned to the internet to voice their concerns about the lack of clarity over safety measures taken in reopened schools. Parents were also concerned about schools remaining open despite reported positive Covid-19 basis in Penang.

You can keep yourself updated about the latest news via reliable sources like our Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia.

Face-to-Face Classes A Better Learning Experience for Young Students

Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, a representative for Unicef Malaysia, offered his support towards the government’s decision to reopen schools. On top of being given direct access to teachers, young school-going children will also enjoy psychosocial support and social engagement with their peers.

He, however, highlighted the importance of vigilance on the part of school administrators, teachers, and parents, cautioning all to keep an eye out for potential health risks. Once high-risk personnel like frontline health workers and other high-risk groups are vaccinated, teachers and school personnel would be next in line.

Recently, there was a dramatic drop in student turnout after a cluster was detected in Simpang Ampat. The Malaysian government, health ministry, and families are still mulling over the uncertainty but optimistic, nonetheless

What Parents of School-Going Children Returning to School in Malaysia Should Do

So what should parents of Primary School and Preschool do during this uncertain period?

First off, we should be more mindful about getting and disseminating information about Covid-19 by finding out more about the myths and misconceptions.

Take heart to the fact that many teachers in Malaysia are not just making the right move to get vaccinated as soon as possible, they are also offering their support and spreading the message. Nearly 56,000 teachers in the high-risk group nationwide were vaccinated during Phase 1.

As parents, we can ask our children the right questions, talk to them about their day after school, consult regularly with school authorities, and teach our kids better preventive measures.

Here are some of the things we can do

  • Children aged 12 and older should wear a mask the same way adults should as advised by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

  • Children are not required to wear a mask when playing sports

  • Ensure that kids are aware of the school’s new SOPs

  • Remind kids to wash their hands properly with soap for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom

  • Ask children to keep a distance from those who are sick

  • Pack hand sanitisers and remind the kids to use it

  • Bring food and utensils from home whenever possible

  • Educate children about proper social distancing

  • Ask the children to speak to their teachers if they are worried about coming back to school during a Pandemic

  • Parents should communicate with authorities, school administrators, and teachers about the latest measures that can be implemented to ensure maximum safety of school-going children

Vaccination On the Way

As of March 2021, approximately 35 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in 8 South-east Asian countries as efforts continue worldwide.

With more than 41 million pumped into bumping up testing capabilities, further tests are also being run to detect new virus variants. Online training sessions, including webinars, are also being conducted for the sharing of best practices on pandemic response.

Epidemiologist and Biostatistician, Dr Malina Osman, an Associate Professor from the University Putra Malaysia, says that Malaysia could be ahead of schedule as far as vaccination and achieving herd immunity in Malaysia is concerned.

Malaysia is on track for its Phase 1 Vaccination Schedule while Phase 2 will run from April to August 2021. Phase 3, in the meantime, is expected to roll out from May to February 2022.

In the meantime, if your children are already back in school, help them understand what the Coronavirus is and the safety measures they need to adhere to. It will go a long way.

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