Disappointed Over ‘Mask-Free’ Teacher’s Day Event

KOTA KINABALU: A parent who attended the state-level Teacher’s Day event today has voiced out disappointment in some of the education officials who were seen neglecting the most important Covid-19 containment measure.

Describing it as a ‘mask-free event’, she said many of the attendees including teachers were bare-faced throughout the event held in an enclosed air-conditioned hotel ballroom, attended by some 200.

“It was upsetting to see the breaking of standard operating procedures (SOPs) among the education officials, ones who are entrusted by parents to handle their children during school sessions.

“They kept emphasising about the SOPs but were not showing good examples. I am now more afraid than ever to send my children to school,” she expressed.

The event, featuring State Federal Secretary Datuk Samsuni Mohd Noor as the guest of honour, also saw a choir group consisting of about 30 people standing less than the recommended one-metre distance between each other while performing bare-faced.

Social distancing was mostly observed but none of those who went on and left the stage for the prize presentation – at least 30 of them – wore face masks.

Although the restriction of mass gatherings is now more relaxed, the public had been advised over and over again of the importance of mask-wearing, an act which health experts say could reduce the transmission of the still-raging Covid-19 virus by as much as 50 per cent.

Samsuni and State Education Department Dr Mistirine Radin spoke about the SOPs during a press conference later but did not put on any face covering throughout the event.

“There were challenges in making this event a success as we need to adapt with the new norm. Up until now, we still have to go through the recovery movement control order (RMCO) until end of August.

“With positive development in Malaysia, schools will soon fully reopen, and universities will restart lecture sessions in stages. Let’s pray that the Teacher’s Day celebration next year will be merrier,” said Samsuni.

Meanwhile, Mistirine disclosed that several approaches are being prepared by the department and other authorities for the full reopening of schools in an effort to keep Covid-19 at bay while ensuring the learning environment is still conducive.

She said, besides providing guidance and briefings on table arrangements and social distancing markings, the school can choose from three approaches to conduct sessions.

“For the first module, teaching and learning sessions remain conducted for one session only, but the period of classes may be lengthened.

“Schools that choose the second module can conduct two sessions (morning and evening) so that the number of students in a class can be reduced (to observe social distancing).

“The third module is usually for classrooms that involve large numbers of students. With this module, students can choose to come to school in rotation,” she said.

According to the director, the department is in the phase of guiding the schools so that they can choose the best-fitted module for implementation.

With all these containment approaches, their reluctance to wear masks could still deepen the public impressions, particularly of parents with schoolchildren, that the authorities are not taking the pandemic seriously.