Sunday, September 26, 2021

Make SOPs part of school discipline, educators say as Covid cases rise

They say SOPs should be tightened and teachers be given priority for vaccination.

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Educators have called for Covid-19 SOPs to be made part of school discipline amid news of an increase in school-related virus clusters and warnings by the health ministry that affected centres will be advised to close.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council president Mohd Ali Hassan said students should individually and collectively abide by health SOPs.

“Disciplinary action should be taken against any student who neglects to comply with the SOPs,” he said. “The students must also share the spirit of ‘Protect Yourself, Protect Everyone’.”

He said some steps that can be taken include issuing reminders in the form of memos or letters to those who breach SOPs, a copy of which must be sent to their parents or guardians.

Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said 20 school-related clusters had been recorded from March 20 to April 4.

At a press conference, he said the so-called education cluster is mostly caused by infections from colleagues and social contacts.

Depending on the results of health and risk assessments conducted by the district health office, he said, school administrations could be advised to close schools or classes which record positive cases until preventive measures have been taken.

Ali said the increase in positive cases at schools meant that students and teachers should be ready for face-to-face or home-based teaching and learning, depending on instructions received from authorities.

He suggested that SOPs be tightened at school entrances for parents dropping their children off as well as for school staff including canteen workers.

He also called for teachers to be given priority in receiving vaccine shots.

“Teachers who refuse vaccination should provide a show-cause letter for not complying. Appropriate action can then be taken by the relevant district education office,” he said.

Aminuddin Awang, president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, said the increase in clusters related to the education sector should not necessarily be traced back to the schools themselves.

“School administrations cannot possibly know where all the students have been before coming to school, what their activities are and who their close contacts are.”

He said schools had by and large put in place effective preventive measures within their compounds, adding that the problem lies outside.

“There is no control outside the schools,” he said. “In this case, do not blame the schools if there is an increase in school-related clusters.

“Schools are victims of what happens outside.”

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