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Cheers, fears and some tears as kids head back to school

A wide range of emotions is on display as students head back to school this week after a long enforced break from the physical classroom due to Covid-19. Mindful of public health concerns, authorities have put in place strict SOPs to circumvent further spread of infection but while some children can't wait to rejoin their friends in school, others may take a while more to adjust.

Djohan Shahrin
2 minute read
A mother helps her daughter pull on her socks at their home in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, on the first day back at school for pupils in Standard 1 and 2.
A mother helps her daughter pull on her socks at their home in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, on the first day back at school for pupils in Standard 1 and 2.
School buses are again a familiar sight in neighbourhoods throughout the city as drivers make their way from house to house, picking up children to take to school.
Other pupils are driven to school by their parents, who make sure they are wearing the mandatory face masks to curb the spread of Covid-19.
At this religious school in Kampung Tasik Permai, Ampang, a teacher takes a pupil’s temperature from a safe distance before ushering her into the classroom to join the others.
At another school in the same area, Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tasik, students dressed as superheroes and cartoon characters hand out sweets to welcome Standard 1 and 2 pupils back to the classroom after their long break.
A guard signals for traffic to stop so that a group of children can cross the road in front of their school.
Once they have safely crossed, they are welcomed by another group of superheroes including their friendly neighbourhood Spiderman and even the popular Pokemon character Pikachu.
One child clings to his mother, unswayed by the prospect of the sweets held out by a teacher. It is the first day of school, after all.
In the school compound, teachers help children line up for temperature checks before directing them to their classrooms.
Outside, meanwhile, parents watch until the very last minute, waiting under the hot sun to make sure that their children are safe.
Standard 1 pupils at this religious school listen as their teacher explains the SOPs put in place to ward off the spread of Covid-19.
A teacher holds up an exercise book for her students to see. The classroom has been arranged to comply with health SOPs including physical distancing of at least a metre between desks.
It’s time to get to know each other. One by one, pupils are ushered to the front of the class to introduce themselves to their classmates.
Recess time looks very different now as students wait in line to collect their food.
There is no more mixing and mingling at the canteen – once they have collected their food, they take it back to their desks to eat. They are only allowed to leave the class with permission from their teacher.
Further away at SJK Cina Khai Chee, a Chinese-type national school in Segambut, a student stares out the window of his classroom.
The teacher instructs the students to open their books as face-to-face classes resume after months of virtual learning.
In every classroom it is the same mix of the familiar and the strange as teachers remind students of the need to follow SOPs in order to keep everybody safe from Covid-19.