SDMC Should Review The Decision To Open The Schools In Sibu

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Press Statement By Irene Chang:

The reported positive case of the teacher in SJK Methodist should prompt SDMC to review the decision to open all schools in Sibu. The decision to open all schools apart from the 8 primary schools located in high risk areas in Sibu until March 19 while allowing schools just outside the red zone to open, does not make practical sense. Four of these eight schools which have their opening postponed until 22 nd March 2021 are located in Bukit Assek area, which is a hotspot for Covid 19 positive cases. They are SK St Rita, SJK Sacred Heart Chinese, SJK Uk Daik and SJK Chung Sing. I understand that the decision to open the schools was based on the fact that those schools allowed to open were located outside the red zone.

This decision does not reflect the reality on the ground that even though the schools themselves may not be located in the red zone district, a lot of their students and teachers actually come from the red zone district. For instance, is the clear case of St Rita Primary School (which is closed) and SK Sacred Heart English (which is opened). As St Rita is a girls’ school and Sacred Heart English is a boys’ school, there are bound to have families with children from both schools.

Over the past few days, I have received a few phone calls from parents complaining that while their girls can stay home for the whole of this week, their brothers had to go back to school on 15th March. Since they come from the same household, what is the logic of keeping the girls at home while sending the boys to school? If the child sent to school should go home with the infection, the whole family would be at high risk of being infected. For those parents who called me, I had informed them that if they were not comfortable, they should just not send their child to school. However, even with that arrangement, there are bound to have some parents who are pressured to send
their child to school as they are worried that their children might miss out on the lessons taught in school especially when they were told that there would be no online classes available once the school is opened.

SDMC should also be aware that a lot of other schools like SJK (C) Methodist, SK Perbandaran Sibu No.4 which are located outside the red zones and which opened on 15th March, have students and teachers staying in red zone district. The reported case of the teacher from SJK Methodist who were tested positive yesterday have thrown the families of students and other teachers into a frenzy panic. The school now has to be closed pending further notice.

I urge SDMC to look at the overall situation in Sibu before they deem it safe for schools to reopen. Especially when there is only one more week before the mid term school break starts on 26th March 2021, there is just no point in putting such physical and emotional pressure on both teachers and students. And when cases like the teacher
from SJK Methodist happens, it would put extra stress on the resources of both the health system and SDMC. Also, to carry out physical classes at this point would also jeopardize and not be conducive to the teaching and learning environment in schools as teachers would naturally spend more time and energy in making sure that the SOP is followed. I urge SDMC to review the decision to open all the schools in Sibu until at least the end of March when it should be reviewed again. Let both teachers and students just focus on online teaching for the time being.