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The Coronavirus loves crowds, like those found in schools. Scary!

Some parents, teachers and those who work in schools are confused and scared. They have asked why schools are set to open next week (20 January) despite the Emergency Rule.

Some businesses are allowed to continue as normal, some travel is permitted, but they have been informed that the overall aim of the Emergency Rule and MCO, is to control the spread of the infection, and to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

One staff member of a school said, “We had the end of year holidays recently when families had kenduris, and went on holiday to visit friends and relatives. I am worried for myself and my school. What will happen if one child or teacher, who went on holiday, brings the infection to school?”

Another parent said, “Why do we have two deputy ministers for Education? What has the Minister of Education and his two deputies said about protecting school children and the teaching staff?

“My elderly parent lives with me and I worry that my child might catch an infection at school and spread it to my mother. My husband is diabetic. He is vulnerable.

“We are told that the healthcare system is under a lot of strain. Is it wise to open schools now? The information for parents is sketchy. I do not feel safe sending my children to school.”

Students and many parents have also questioned the quality of the online lessons provided by the Ministry of Education.

One person who pities his younger sister, who has to study online lessons said, “My sister is not enjoying her lessons at all. She is missing the social interaction and engagement with her teacher. She is depressed. More importantly, we live in an area where the internet connection is bad at the best of times. She also questions the quality of the lessons that have been produced.”

Another social observor said, “What about the poorer students? Many of these parents cannot afford a tablet, let alone a smartphone. What happens to the education of students in this income bracket? What is the ministry of education’s solution for these students? What about students in the outlying areas? What about  the education of the Orang Asli children?

“Is there a scheme to help poorer families with online learning? Sadly, they can have the best  tablet affordable, but the technological advantage is rendered useless if they live in an area which has a dodgy internet connection.”

One parent said, “I wonder if the government will have a change of heart next week, and make a U-turn about opening schools. I wish they would decide quickly, instead of deciding at the last minute and making an announcement late at night.

“Many parents either have to work from home, or have jobs which are allowed under the present rules. This means that if schools are shut, we have to arrange for baby sitting or child care provision.

“We can’t just leave our children at home unsupervised. Even if we work from home,  we still need to revise arrangements at home to accommodate the children’s educational needs, and buy extra food.

“Another of my friends has three school-going children. All three have to share one tablet. Just imagine the inadequacy of online learning for them.”

So, will the Ministry of Education close schools next week and force all students, except for those taking exams, to study online?

Are teachers happy with the extra precuations, such as  social distancing and provision of PPE?

Have public transport and school buses been modified for social distancing?

What has the Union of Teachers said about next week’s school opening? Are they satisfied with the precautionary measures taken to protect teachers, schoolchildren and school staff, including ancillary employees like cleaners and caterers?

Parents, teachers, students and schoolstaff would appreciate ample warning if schools are going to be shut again, so that they can prepare.

Muhyiddin Yassin said that the Emergency Rule will bring ‘calm and stability’ and bring relief for businessess. Really?

Rebuilding Malaysia
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