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Back to school for 45,000 in Sabah
Published on: Thursday, June 25, 2020
By: Anthea Peter, Ibrahim Tabir, Efa Rizan, Mardinah Jikur, Christy Chok
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Social distancing at the canteen of KK High School.
Kota Kinabalu: Some 45,065 major exam candidates resumed classes Wednesday as 236 secondary schools across Sabah reopened their doors following a three-month closure due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

State Education Department Director Dr Mistirine Radin said the candidates are those who would sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) examinations. 

She said education officers have been deployed to 24 districts to monitor the reopening and compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) prepared by the Education Ministry. 

Mistirine also visited three schools, namely Kota Kinabalu High School (KKHS), SM Kian Kok and Maktab National to see the compliance herself.

“I also received an update from the officers and what was taught during the schools’ reopening preparations was adhered to,” she told a press conference after visiting KKHS. 

Mistirine measuring distance between two students with a long 

ruler to ensure KKHS’ compliance with the necessary SOP. 

She said there was still need to make the SOP a culture among the students. 

“The culture of social distancing and frequent handwashing (should be ingrained). From what I observe, washing hands has yet to become a culture here. 

“So we will focus on making it a culture. We don’t want a Covid-19 school cluster to happen,” she said. 

She added that pre-schools would reopen on July 1 and the department would start guiding their reopening preparations on Friday. 

Meanwhile, KKHS Principal Lily Wong Bitt Lee said the school took a month to prepare its reopening for 434 Form five and six students. 

“Even two weeks before reopening, the Senior Assistants and Head Teachers came back to implement the preparations,” she said, that included sticking notice signs and marking social distancing widths between tables. 

“We are also using a face scanning thermometer sponsored by the alumni to avoid students from queuing up for a long time when getting their temperatures checked,” she said. 

Students who record high body temperature at the entrance gate would be asked to rest and cool down before getting rechecked. 

“If the high body temperature happens in the classroom, we will call the ambulance,” she said. 

She added that the school would implement four recesses with a limit of 100 students at a time, compared to only two recesses previously. 

“The students will only be allowed to take away their food,” she said, adding that students would bring the food back to the classroom and eat under the supervision of teachers. 

An infographic put up by the school to guide students on the necessary SOP. 

The school’s SOP implementation and efforts to avoid Covid-19 transmission will be revaluated and improved from time to time. 

Meanwhile, a Fifth former at KKHS Joshue Edgard said it is the student’s responsibility to normalise the SOP.

“We as students should try to abide by the rules,” he said, and opined that although the new norm in class feels different, it still comfortable and does not obstruct the learning process. 

In KUNAK, a Daily Express’ survey on three schools – SMK Madai, SMK Kunak and SMK Kunak Jaya – found they had made prior SOP preparations. 

“School session started at 7.30am, but majority of them arrived as early as 6.30am. The parents are equality excited about sending their children back to school,” said Mide Teppo from the SMK Kunak Student’s Disciplinary Unit. 

A simulation programme was carried out in three secondary schools prior to the reopening and was aimed at applying several new norms which need to be complied with by every teacher and student while in school. 

SMK Madai Principal Abd Hussin Madjakinal said they have introduced a system where food is delivered directly to the classrooms (cash-on-delivery) by the school’s canteen operators. 

“These are among alternatives to lessen students’ movement … this is among options in addition to opening of food counters at the canteen,” he said. 

He said the school’s canteen operators have sufficient manpower and are prepared to implement the cash-on-delivery system.

“We hope it can be started as early as the first week of the school’s reopening,”he said. 

He said SMK Madai has 174 students who will be sitting for SPM and 53 their STPM exams. 

Thirteen classrooms were opened, whereby each classroom had between 15 or 16 students. Classes at SMK Kunak Jaya also went smoothly in accordance to the stipulated SOP.

“We hope students will remain spirited ahead of their examination, while at the same time comply with the SOP,” said SMK Kunak Jaya Principal, Malek Shafdar Gulam. 

Similarly, he hoped teachers would continue to be committed in carrying out their responsibility despite being faced with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said they have opened 10 classrooms for SPM students and three for STPM students, adding that this was done to ensure SOP and social distancing is complied with. 

State Education Department’s Special Education Assistant Senior Director, Piluh @ Mathilda Osong together with several District Education officers also carried out their survey on SMK Madai and SMK Kunak Jaya during the first day of school reopening here. 

Their delegation visited SMK Kunak on June 21. 

She noted the schools, teachers and students’ compliance to the SOP.

“I wish teachers and students welcome back to school … I also reminded them to comply with the SOP while in the classrooms, and also in the canteen. We have to take care of ourselves to contain the spread of Covid-19,” she said. 

SMK Madai Form 6 student, Nurul Atikah Yacho said she is happy to be back in school and to be able to meet her friends after schools were temporarily closed for about three months. 

She said during those months, she used the Internet platform for online learning.

In RANAU, the Teaching and Learning Process (PdP) at 11 secondary schools in the district, ran smoothly with all practising one-metre social distancing, body temperature checks, wearing facemask and hand washing using hand sanitiser.

This practice involved students, teachers, school staff and parents.

Several students expressed their joy at returning to school despite the new normal as the Restoration Movement Control (CPPP) Order is still in force until Aug. 31, 2020.

Ranau District Education Officer Majus Munsing also ‘turun padang’ to several secondary schools to review the implementation of the PdP beginning June 24.

In SANDAKAN, District Education Officer Dalmansa Tahil said 21 secondary schools reopened. “We are satisfied that the schools have taken the necessary steps and comply with the SOP.

At SMK Elopura in Sandakan.

“Attendance on the first day is around 90 per cent,” he said, after monitoring the reopening of SMK Elopura Bestari at Mile 11. Also present were SMK Elopura Bestari Principal Kalsum Abd Aziz. 

Dalmansa said online learning would continue for non-form five and six students. Whereas for areas without internet access, teachers would be encouraged to send learning materials to the students personally so they learn their subjects manually. 

Meanwhie, Kalsum said only 15 to 20 students are allowed per class to ensure social distancing. Students are also divided into 16 classes compared to seven previously. 

The school would also provide notebooks for the students for the purpose of recording their body temperatures and health levels as they attend classes. 

In TAWAU, 433 Upper Sixth students of Kolej Tingkatan Enam Tawau, who will sit for STPM this year, returned to school.

The college opened 60 classes with a capacity of 16, 18 or 20 students each class according to the class width.

A Daily Express survey found all the Upper Sixth students and educators were delighted at being able to interact again at close quarters while meeting the SOP requirements. 

It was learnt that more than 500 Lower Sixth students would return after two weeks.

Senior administrative assistant of SMK Tawau, Hjh Shariffah Anisah Syed Ariffin said 358 Form Five students and 102 educators were back. The school opened 22 classes with 18 students each and each class followed a different recess time.

“They had their body temperature taken and used hand sanitiser once they arrived at 6:30am. Every student put on a face mask at all times in the school and the class dismissed at 1pm,” she said.

The school had 1,810 students and 385 of them were Form One students, Form Two (376 students), Form Three (370 students), Form Four (121 students) and Form Five (358 students). Yet, Form One until Form Four students were currently taking online classes.

Rashidi (green shirt) together with other teachers

were making the DIY Hand Sanitizer at the school.

An interesting point of the school was about the teachers led by Rashidi Rasyidy Mohd Sidek had taken initiative to produce 30 sets of DIY hand sanitizer rack for the school students within two days.


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