Several school administrators confided that they are finding themselves in an increasingly challenging situation as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to spread and more cases are detected in educational institutions.
School principals and headteachers also told Malaysiakini that ensuring their schools are always in compliance with Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) adds to their heavy workloads.
One principal at a Klang Valley school said he is now frequently in contact with the district health office and district education office to report developments whenever an infection has been detected.
“It can be said that we school principals are in a difficult situation and (have) greater responsibility to ensure our schools are always safe.
“Not only that our schools need to be safe, we need to ensure students follow the SOP while at school and after school,” the principal, who did not want to be named, told Malaysiakini.
To the best of his knowledge, the principal said, Covid-19 cases involving students originate from outside the school.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said 811 Covid-19 clusters have been reported since the beginning of the year up to March 25.
Of these, 15 clusters involved higher education institutions, 11 involved secondary schools, 10 involved pre-schools and primary schools, and five involved tahfiz schools and madrasah.
On Jan 20, the Education Ministry announced the resumption of face-to-face lessons at schools for students sitting for the SPM, SVM, STPM and STAM examinations, as well as for special educational needs students.
On March 1, this reopening was expanded to include all primary schools and pre-schools.
A principal in Selangor said his school is facing a heavier workload to ensure it is free of the disease and to field questions from worried parents.
“The school frequently conducts sanitisation works to ensure the school is free from Covid-19.
“Sometimes we have to handle questions from parents on whether the school has recorded any Covid-19 cases and (the parents) worry about their children’s safety if the school session is continued.
“However, we as school administrators don’t have any power to decide whether the school should be closed or not,” the principal said.
A headteacher at a Kuala Lumpur school said ensuring their school doesn’t spark a new Covid-19 cluster is a major challenge.
This is especially the case as authorities have threatened stern action against violators.
“Not only that, if schools record Covid-19 cases, we have to report the latest developments to the district health office and district education office.
“It has become a new responsibility in the ‘new normal’ school session,” the headteacher told Malaysiakini.