The Education Ministry should postpone the reopening of the schools in stages nationwide starting Oct 3, says Penang Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo.
He said he fully supported the Federal Government’s move to vaccinate children aged between 12 and 17 but it should not be made on an ad hoc basis.
He said from what he understands it would take 14 days for the vaccine to be effective after a person gets inoculated.
“Which means if today they get vaccinated, when they start school on the 3rd of October, they still don’t get the immunity.
“We’ve to be responsible. Postpone the school reopening if you want to start (vaccination) yesterday or today. I am a father of four children and I know all parents will agree with that,” said Jagdeep.
He added that if school teachers are required to get vaccinated, then students should also be vaccinated.
“If schools teachers must be vaccinated and students are not, does it make sense?
“I hope Penang can be the first to come up with an app to see whether a teacher or a student has been vaccinated or not before they return to school,” Jagdeep said when he witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) and Boost Business for the implementation of the ‘Digital Biz’ programme at MBSP today.
The school reopening in stages from Oct 3 is based on the phase of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) each state is in.
As has been announced by the Education Ministry, schools in states under Phase One of NRP will remain closed and their students will continue with the home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) sessions.
For Penang, which is under Phase Two, only special schools catering to pupils with special needs at the primary school level will reopen and pupils are allowed to attend without having to take turns.
Also for states under Phase Two, those pupils in Year One to Year Six will continue with PdPR, while at the secondary school level, only Form Six second-semester students are allowed to return to school.
For Phase Three states, preschools and private kindergartens are also allowed to reopen and their pupils can attend without rotation. As for secondary schools, full boarding school students sitting for public examinations can attend school without rotation; daily and private school students sitting for public examinations are allowed allowed to return to school but rotation is necessary.
For Phase Four states, primary school pupils in Years One to Three can attend school on a rotational basis from Oct 17 onwards. Years Four, Five and Six pupils will do the same, also on rotation, from Oct 31.
Form Three and Form Four students and those taking public examinations in full boarding schools will be allowed to attend classes on a rotational basis from Oct 17. As for students attending daily and private secondary schools, those in Form Three and Form Four and taking public examination can return to school on a rotational basis. Form One and Form Two students are to continue with PdPR.
A total of about 3.2 million teenagers in the country are expected to be covered by the Covid-19 immunisation programme.
In fact, the immunisation programme for the teenagers had already started in Sarawak on Sept 8 and in Labuan on Sept 11.
This was followed by teenagers in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang on Sept 20.
Meanwhile, Jagdeep said the state hopes to complete all vaccinations for all its adult population by the end of this month.
Thus far, he said 94.9% of its adult population have obtained dose one vaccination and 76.7% have received dose two vaccination.
He added that for dose one, Penang’s rate was higher than the national average of 93.3% and for dose two, Penang was not very far behind the national average of 81%.
He also expressed his optimism about Penang moving on to the next phase of the National Recovery Plan.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar