Kuching MP urges Education Ministry to close schools in Sarawak’s Covid-19 high-risk areas

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen during an interview with Malay Mail at Parliament August 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen during an interview with Malay Mail at Parliament August 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUCHING, April 18 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Dr Yii today urged the Ministry of Education (MoE) to close schools in high-risk areas in Sarawak, such as red and orange zones, for at least two weeks to help break the spread of Covid-19 infections.

He said during the period of school closure, the ministry should start coming up with a hybrid system, where classes are rotated on different days, thus reducing then number of students in schools

He added students who can follow home-based learning should be allowed to do so and those who could not be allowed to come to school in the rotating system.

Dr Yii said MoE should train and equip all teachers to help adapt to such a system during this period and not let them to “figure things out” on their own.

“This will prepare the teachers when school reopen and this system can be in place for schools in high-risk areas and can be reverted back to normal system once the Covid-19 situation improves,” he said in a statement.

He said parents and even teachers are worried about their safety and the safety of the children due to the spike in the number of positive cases.

He said it was reported that up to 112 schools in Sarawak have seen infections since the reopening under the instructions of the MoE.

“I fully understand that the decision to open schools is a tough one as there are many factors to consider especially balancing the need to protect the health of our children, and also to make sure they do not be left out from their studies, especially among the poorer students and those living in rural areas,” Dr Yii said.

He also called on the ministry to be transparent on crucial information on Covid-19 outbreaks in schools so that parents will make an informed choice for what is best for their children in such situation.

“With clear and specific parameter, parents can then evaluate whether to send their children to school, or even for the District Education Offices to make decisions when to open or close schools.

“Such decision must be based on facts and data and not any political consideration,” he said, adding that vaccination for teachers must be prioritised in Phase 2 of the vaccination programme which starts tomorrow.

Dr Yii said schools cannot just simply open and close based on daily numbers, and this cannot go on forever especially as many experts are expecting Covid-19 to be endemic.

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