KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — The federal government has postponed the resumption of physical lessons at schools nationwide by a month to October 3, Senior Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin announced today.

Radzi’s ministry previously proposed to reopen schools from September 1, but the plan to proceed despite prevailing high Covid-19 cases in the country had led to parents and educators expressing concern over the potential risks of doing so.

Just today, Malaysia reported another 20,546 new Covid-19 patients as well as 282 more deaths, giving the country a cumulative case total of over 1.4 million and a death toll of 12,510.

“Based on the latest determination, we have decided to slightly delay the reopening of schools to October 3.

“The reopening will occur in stages, beginning with examination classes,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

Radzi explained that when his ministry announced in July that schools would be reopened on September 1, this included the caveat that it would ultimately depend on the Health Ministry and National Security Council’s risk assessment before implementation.

He also pointed out that the plan to reopen schools was subject to the National Recovery Plan and its four phases.

“Schools in Phase One (states) were not allowed to open while those in Phase Two states would only have been allowed to reopen for examination classes.

“So, we cannot say that we were going to reopen all schools on September 1. We said it was our target to start reopening then,” he said when reiterating that the plan was always based on current risk assessments.

Radzi also urged parents and educators to understand that the overarching priority in reopening schools was to ensure that the safety of the students was not at risk.

The senior minister then insisted that managing the Covid-19 pandemic was a complex matter due to the rapidly changing conditions.

He then sought to assure parents that significant effort has been made to ensure home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) was sufficient to provide at least the minimum level of education to students.

Malaysia reopened its schools for physical lessons in March but was forced to close them again in May when the current wave of Covid-19 infections forced the country into a “total lockdown” the next month.

Since then, students have had to continue with the online learning that had made up the bulk of last year’s lessons.