Press Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
I welcome the government’s announcement on the opening of schools by stages but necessary steps and SOP need to be properly implemented and enforced to allay the fears of parents and students and also to avoid a second wave of infections especially among the students and also teachers.
While the opening of schools is important so the students especially the those without proper internet or gadgets do not get further left behind and also freeing parents to go back to work, but it has to be done properly so that we can avoid any spread of the virus causing a 2nd wave just like South Korea, France and some other countries.
With the introduction of “home-based” learning, many of our students here in Sarawak has been left out, and this is not only limited to those in the rural areas, but also among the urban poor that cannot afford proper computer or even TV and also lack the guidance and discipline to follow the materials prepared through this home-based model. The Minister in charged of education in Sarawak once said that 50% of students do not have access and this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
That is why I believe, even with this important announcement, the Ministry of Education should give clear and precise direction on all the necessary SOPs and even SOPs and what must be done if there is an spread or outbreak in a schools. With clearer instructions, there will generally be better compliance as we prepare not just the students and teachers of all the needed precautions, but also the parents.
A joint study from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on school reopening strategies has highly recommended that “large-scale population-wide testing of symptomatic individuals and effective tracing of their contacts, followed by isolation of symptomatic and diagnosed individuals” needed to be in place to prevent a second wave as we open our schools.
The research said preventing a second wave would require 51% of all people with symptomatic infections to be tested, along with the tracing of two-fifths of their contacts, then isolating those that are symptomatic and diagnosed.
So I hope the Education Ministry and Ministry of Health has done all the necessary preparations, simulations and formulated the necessary precautions in our local context for any eventualities so that we are always prepared. This also has to be communicated to all including parents so they can also prepare their children before they go back to school.
The Ministry should also engage with the PIBG or school board to get their input to which model of reopening each of the schools. The Ministry introduced 3 main models of opening based on size, and density of each school, but I believe the input from the teachers, parents and also Board members will be useful so that all stakeholders are included in this important decision.