As Covid-19 numbers in schools rise, parents call for temporary closure

Alyaa Alhadjri
·3-min read
As Covid-19 numbers in schools rise, parents call for temporary closure
As Covid-19 numbers in schools rise, parents call for temporary closure

Parents of students in at least two schools in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur with active Covid-19 cases have opted to keep their children at home pending response to their calls for temporary closure.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Shashi Kumar, a parent of two teenagers in SMK Kota Kemuning Shah Alam, said the move follows an April 14 circular from the school's Parents Teachers Association, informing that one teacher and two students tested positive for Covid-19.

According to the circular sighted by Malaysiakini, a total of 158 students and four teachers were issued a 10-day home quarantine order from April 9 until today (April 18).

"Due to there being no order from the District Health Department for school closure, the school will remain open as usual.

"However, parents must be aware of their child's health status. Avoid coming to school and mingling with friends if they are showing symptoms of fever, cough or others," said the circular signed by SMK Kota Kemuning PTA chairperson Kamarudzaman Sanusi.

Subsequently, Shashi said the PTA issued an updated circular on April 16, informing that two more students had tested positive, while 182 students from six classes and 41 teachers were placed under quarantine.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) vice secretary-general also said his son was among the students under home quarantine, while his daughter continued to attend school as normal.

"We parents are not happy as we find the district health department and education ministry is not taking this matter seriously, as the number of Covid victims is increasing.

"This is a national crisis where young school children are vulnerable and exposed to Covid-19," he said.

"A majority of parents are asking for the school to be temporarily closed so online classes can resume, where it is safer for all," Shashi said, adding that affected parents would raise the matter with the local district education department.

Separately, a parent who wished to be known as Cong Jen, whose child is a student at SJKC Khai Chee, in Jalan Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, said a Covid-19 positive case detected in the school had prompted similar calls for a return to online learning.

"Of course, the Health Ministry can say quarantine only affects students and teachers, but the chain reaction is more than that.

"I have since chosen to keep both my children, one in primary school and the other in kindergarten at home," said Cong Jen, adding that the process involves writing a letter to the school declaring full responsibility for his children's learning process.

According to notices issued to parents by SJKC Khai Chee's headmaster Tea Kim Wah, as shared on the school's official Facebook page, there have been four confirmed Covid-19 positive cases detected among students since April 14.

Each of the students came from a different class and the remaining students in all four classes, as well as their teachers, have been placed under quarantine.

Other schools with recently reported Covid-19 cases include SJK(C) Pin Hwa 1, Shah Alam, where pupils and teachers from 14 classes were placed under quarantine from April 16 onwards.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching yesterday said many schools have been reporting Covid-19 cases on their own but the onus to provide daily updates should be on the Education Ministry.

"The Education Ministry must provide daily updates regarding the Covid-19 situation in schools. This involves transparency. There are no two ways about it.

"Parents and teachers have a right to this information so they can make informed decisions," said Teo, who was formerly a deputy education minister.

On Friday, Sin Chew Daily cited the National Union of Heads of Schools (KKGGBM) president Lim Bee Khim's statement that at least 146 primary schools and 40 secondary schools recorded positive Covid-19 cases since March 1 as physical lessons resumed.