Mixed feelings to reopening of schools

Marcus Hugo

MIRI: Former academician and school principal, Marcus Hugo, is relieved that non-exam students in rural and sub-urban schools could now go back to school in stages starting from July 15.

He lauded the government’s decision to allow schools to reopen in stages, saying that this will provide the students with proper and interactive classroom education.

“This news of opening lower secondary and primary schools is very much welcome, though they (schools) may have to choose any of the three operating options suitable for the respective school depending on the situation,” he said.

The first operating option recommends schools to conduct lessons within one session. This is for schools that are able to accommodate all their students and schools that choose this model will operate as usual.

The second option recommends a dual session for schools that are not able to accommodate all their students in one session, while the third option is a rotational system.

Marcus pointed out that some parents must have been eagerly waiting for this announcement as their children were not able to follow online classes due to not having internet access or gadgets to do so.

“I believe many parents have been waiting for this, especially those whose children have not been able to follow online learning like many of their fortunate counterparts.

“They were not able to sit for online classes, either because they do not have the necessary hardware like computers or smartphones or due to internet access problem,” he said when contacted yesterday.

According to him, these issues are not only faced by those in the rural areas but also those in the sub-urban areas, especially the squatters.

Once formal classes have started, he said teaching and learning can be conducted more efficiently and effectively under formal atmosphere.

“The teachers can now give personal attention and provide the personal touch which some students may need.

“I believe this is most beneficial for those children who have no access to internet and hence have been left behind as they cannot follow the online learning provided by their teachers,” he added.

If online or non-formal lesson is allowed to continue longer, Marcus fears it may cause serious learning gap for these children and it might also result in poor foundation for learning progress.

“However, the opening of the school must be done with strict adherence to the SOP (standard operating procedure) and guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health,” he pointed out.

He added that the Education Department must also monitor closely the schools to ensure that all SOPs put in place are adhered to strictly.

Karambir Singh

Meanwhile, a lecturer with a private higher learning institution, Karambir Singh, said it is good that the schools are given the three options as this enables them to choose an operating model suitable for their specific mode of school operation.

“However, I think it is too early to allow so many classes to open at the same time.

“For example, they can allow Primary 6 to start first, then one month later Primary 5 can follow suit,” he suggested.

He said in this way, the opening up can be rolled out in a manageable and controlled manner.

“In addition to this, I hope the implementation is done based on Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) instructions. Also, the date July 22 for opening does not take into account our Sarawak Independence Day public holiday.

“Let us roll out the opening gradually in stages and not rush into opening at the same time. If there is another outbreak (of Covid-19) it would be difficult to manage,” said Karambir who is also the chairman of SMK St Columba parent-teacher association.

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Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2020/07/03/mixed-feelings-to-reopening-of-schools/