KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian schools will reopen in phases, starting on Jun 24 for those taking their leaving examinations, said Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin on Wednesday (Jun 10).
In a press conference, he said the first phase of reopening will involve 500,444 students from more than 2,500 schools taking their secondary and international leaving examinations.
As for students in other educational levels, the dates for school reopening have not been finalised, he said, adding that an announcement will be made two weeks before classes resume. In the meantime, students will continue with home-based learning.
“The opening on Jun 24 is for students sitting for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM), Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM) and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM).
“These students as well as their parents and guardians will have to adhere to strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) as set by the National Security Council, Health Ministry and Education Ministry,” he said.
However, the school hours have not be finalised, he said. Students will attend school in batches, he added.
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On Jun 4, the education ministry released a set of guidelines on reopening of schools. The guidelines detail the necessary steps to be taken to ensure students, teachers, staff and visitors are protected during the pandemic.
Elaborating on the SOPs, Dr Mohd Radzi said on Wednesday that all students will have their temperatures scanned as soon as they arrive in school.
He said that teachers will be assigned to check every student entering the school premises, and any student with a temperature above 37.5 degrees or showing any relevant symptoms will be asked to go home immediately.
If the students came to school via public transportation, school bus or others, they would be kept in an isolation room to wait for their parents or guardians to come and get them. The district health office will also be notified.
“Other students will need to follow a designated pathway to their respective classrooms and each classroom will only accommodate enough students to ensure the one metre distance between the tables are maintained,” he said, adding that the maximum capacity for each classroom will be 20 students.
PRE-PACKED MEALS, STAGGERED RECESS HOURS
As for meal times, the minister said that school canteens will serve pre-packed meals. Students can then purchase their meals and make their way to their classrooms to eat while under the supervision of a teacher.
“Recess hours will be staggered to ensure there is no crowding anywhere at any point in time.
“Similar SOPs will apply to boarding schools, where their beds will be arranged one metre apart and their meal times will be staggered,” he said, adding that all schools will constantly sanitise surfaces touched frequently such as door knobs and stair railings.
Co-curricular and outdoor activities will not take place until further notice.
Asked if it was compulsory for students to wear masks, Dr Mohd Radzi said there were no restrictions.
“If parents want their children to use masks, they can, there are no restrictions. But if a teacher notices that a student is showing symptoms, then the school will provide a mask and the student will be isolated," he said.
The minister said that the SOPs would be updated from time to time depending on feedback from schools and the Health Ministry. He stated that the guidelines did not only apply to students, but also to teachers, staff and visitors.
Schools in Malaysia have been closed since Mar 18. There are now 8,338 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 118 deaths.