Parents back Penang govt’s appeal to close schools with active Covid-19 cases


IN recent weeks, the news revolving a school in Penang that reported new Covid-19 cases has sparked fresh anxiety among parents.


Some of them who were interviewed by Buletin Mutiara are on the same page with the Penang government which has appealed to the Federal Government to close the affected schools with immediate effect.


The mother of an international school student who resides on mainland and preferred to remain anonymous, said she agrees with the Penang government that whichever school with active Covid-19 cases, should be closed without any hesitation.


“It is a matter of kids’ safety and security, and there shouldn’t be any compromise on this issue. Kids are vulnerable and if a particular school is affected, why hesitate to close it down?


“It doesn’t mean if related schools are closed, then studies would be affected. The kids have opted for online learning for a year or so now, so going back to online lessons shouldn’t be an issue.


“We are in a situation where we cannot afford to make slip-ups, especially when it involves school students and their health.


“I hope all related authorities will speed up their actions to address this issue as I speak on behalf of parents whose kids are directly involved,” she told Buletin Mutiara.


The news of a teacher and 15 pupils of SJKC Keng Koon in Simpang Ampat on the mainland who tested positive for Covid-19 was reported in an English daily recently.


Another parent, Rukshana Anne, 48, said the country and its relevant authorities should not drive away from their efforts to curb further spread of the infections in the community, or else all efforts would be in vain.


“I personally feel the affected schools should be closed because apart from that measure, there is exactly nothing else that can be done during this trying period.


“We cannot afford to make the headlines for the wrong reasons again as the country is slowly and steadily recovering in terms of daily cases,” she said during the interview session.


Rukshana, who is a Penangite, is a housewife and a mother of four.


Nur Baizura Ibrahim, 45, said she agrees that schools with active Covid-19 cases should be closed, at least temporarily until and when the necessary processes had been completed and given the green light to reopen.


“The Federal Government need to seriously consider the suggestion by the state government here. Anything that concerns the safety of school-going children needs immediate and due attention to avoid unforeseen circumstances.


“This seriously affects parents and their mental health. They will not be able to focus entirely on their job but just keep worrying about their kids.


“I am a parent myself, and I know how it feels to have your child go to school when new cases strike in all of a sudden. It is seriously not healthy and the authorities need to act immediately before it is too late,” she said.


Catherine Dass, 49, gave a similar feedback on the need to close affected schools as she feels the elders currently need to set a great example to the young ones that no matter what, priority must always be given to health.


“We need to avoid the blaming game now, and step up and do what is necessary to ensure this issue doesn’t happen again in other schools.


“I sincerely urge the Federal Government to make the wise decision to get the related authorities to do what’s necessary to close the affected schools,” she said.


The Education Ministry recently announced that they could not hastily order the closure of schools as a proper risk analysis and assessment must first be conducted by the authorities.


Its Minister Radzi Jidin in a recent press conference said if the state Health Department decides that the affected classes be closed, then they would do so.


Students in pre-school, Year One and Year Two resumed face-to-face classes on March 1 while Year Three to Year Six returned on March 8.


As for secondary schools, students in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu will start on April 4, while students in other states will return on April 5.


Story by Kevin Vimal
Pix by Alissala Thian and interviewees