Senior Minister of Education, Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin made a recent announcement on the opening of face-to-face school sessions on October 3 according to the phases of the National Recovery Plan.
The announcement received mixed reactions from the public, especially parents and guardians due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Akmar Rozana Abd Rahman, 47, from Bandar Baru Meru said the statement issued by the Senior Minister of Education has created concerns, as his child who is diagnosed with Brainstem Glioma, a high risk brain cancer, requires close monitoring, especially in this pandemic.
“I decided not to send my child to the special needs school (OKU) because my child is still in chemotherapy treatment and needs close care.
“I am worried about the immunity of my child during face-to-face classes because the outbreak is still not showing an encouraging drop in cases and we are still in the second phase.
“I am more comfortable with the Home-based Teaching and Learning (PdPR) approach because I can monitor my child’s health and my child can follow PdPR classes well,” said the mother of 14-year-old Aliah Syamira Badrul Hisham, who attends the Special Education School at Sekolah Kebangsaan Chepor.
According to the announcement, the operation of schools without rotation involves Form Six students in the second semester; International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD) Year Two; third year pre-university students of Sports Schools (Sekolah Sukan Malaysia); students with special needs and students sitting for international examinations (IGCSE O-level, A-level, Australian Higher School Certificate and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program: IBDP). Meanwhile, other primary and secondary schools still implement the method of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR).
Forty-nine-year-old Ipohite, S. Rajeswary has a daughter, K. Santhene, 19, who is currently in her second semester of Form Six at Kolej Tingkatan Seri Ipoh. He expressed his agreement with the Senior Education Minister’s statement.
“I welcome the reopening of the face-to-face classes because I notice that the PdPR learning which lasted for about two months puts a lot of pressure on my daughter.
“Remote learning creates problems such as Internet connection issues, taking a toll on her health, especially her eyesight, as well as affecting her attention span as there would be small distractions at home.
“My daughter has also received two doses of vaccine on September 30. Therefore, I am confident in my child’s safety and she is able to attend classes well in addition to complying with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that have been set,” Rajeswari said.
As for a mother of two, Mei Ying, she has mixed feelings on the opening of physical school sessions. “In my opinion, I think it is risky to send my Form Six daughter to school as she will be exposed to other students. I am aware that SOPs are in place, but we can’t guarantee that there will always be physical distancing among the students because no doubt, they would want to mingle around and talk to their friends.
“We never know who is carrying the virus; some are even asymptomatic, which makes it even more dangerous. My daughter is not vaccinated yet. Hence, her immune system is weaker compared to others, making her vulnerable to the virus,” she said.
However, the mother also said she is happy for her daughter to be able to attend face-to-face classes and meet with her classmates again. “It’s imperative for her mental health as well as helps to develop their social competence. I observed that my children have grown attached to their mobile devices even after their online lessons, they would spend at least an hour or two playing games and I can’t seem to get them off their phones.
According to Ying, she finds the fact that they communicate less with one another rather unhealthy. Not only is it hurting the family bond, it is also mentally affecting them. “Social interaction is as important to children as it is to adults, and there is a difference between interacting with parents and peer groups, people their own age,” she stressed.
Rosli Mansor and Gisele Soo