Wednesday, December 1, 2021

When school SOPs are breached – but not just by students

Some students are finding it difficult to comply with health SOPs, but they are far from being the only ones.

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When Putrajaya announced that schools would be reopening in stages from March 1 despite daily Covid-19 cases remaining firmly in the four-figure zone, concerns were raised about compliance with health SOPs and whether the country would see a new spike in infections once tens of thousands of students started gathering for face-to-face classes once more.

Two weeks after pupils began returning to the physical classroom, complaints are trickling in – but not about the students.

It turns out that parents may be having a harder time complying with SOPs than their children.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) says it has been receiving complaints about parents who do not maintain physical distancing in the school area.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock told MalaysiaNow that many parents would crowd in front of the school gate when waiting to pick up their children after school.

“Because these incidents happen outside the school gate, teachers no longer have control over them,” he said.

His suggestion is for the police to patrol and monitor school areas.

Pre-school and primary school students were allowed to return to school on March 1 following a protracted break from face-to-face classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Because these incidents happen outside the school gate, teachers no longer have control over them.”

Secondary school students will return to school on April 4 except for those in Form 5 who will return to the classroom on March 8.

Nurul Mazlin Mohd Din, who teaches at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pilin in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, said she hoped parents would cooperate fully with school authorities.

“From what we have observed for the past two weeks, there are some parents who view the SOPs as troublesome,” she said.

She added that misunderstandings had occurred between parents and the school management over the dispersal of students from the morning session and religious classes in the afternoon session.

She also said it was difficult to ensure that primary school students keep a safe distance between each other, especially those in Standard 1.

But she is determined to find some sort of common ground between parents and students so that health SOPs are properly observed at school.

Students and SOPs

At Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur, students generally understand the SOPs and put them into practice, says mother Haryati Karim.

She also appreciates the teachers’ efforts to implement the SOPs, including regular temperature checks for students.

But while they obey their teachers’ instructions to wear face masks, use hand sanitiser, and maintain physical distancing in school, these SOPs often go out the window once they exit the school compound, she said.

Haryati told MalaysiaNow that her daughter, Nur Hannah Hazrel Ezriq, doesn’t complain about the SOPs as she is eager to return to school.

“As a mother, I always make sure Hannah has her face mask and hand sanitiser while she’s in school,” she added.

As more and more students return to the classroom after months of online lessons, cooperation between teachers and parents will be more important than ever.

Mohd Kamil Abdul Latiff, a spokesman for the Parent-Teacher Association at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kementah in Kuala Lumpur, said focus is being placed on SOP compliance on the school compound, especially for those in Standard 1 and 2 who are still new to the learning environment.

“There is a lot that we can learn from this pandemic, especially in taking care of our health and adapting to societal norms,” he said.

“It’s been a year since we’ve had to adapt to the new norm, so the vast majority of students are obeying instructions.”

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