Mixed emotions among students and parents as schools reopen in Malaysia amid Covid-19

Malaysia's Education Ministry recently announced the reopening of schools in stages. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The reopening of Malaysian schools that began this week has drawn mixed reaction from parents and students, with some expressing relief over the decision and others conveying concerns at the present Covid-19 situation.

Housewife Salina Saad said given a choice, she would not send her daughter Khaleeda Hamizat, 18, to school just yet.

She, however, believes that her daughter, a Lower Six student of SMK (L) Methodist, is now better protected after completing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine recently.

"Attending online classes at home is hard for my daughter as she can't really focus due to the bad Internet connection. So being able to go for physical classes will enable her to learn better. But still, I am worried even though the number of Covid-19 cases is going down," she said.

Ms Salina, 51, said she reminds her daughter to always maintain good personal hygiene and to be alert with regard to her surroundings, adding that schools should also ensure strict standard operating procedure compliance when physical classes resume.

Khaleeda, who could not wait to return to school, said she could comprehend the subjects better during physical lessons.

"Online classes are not my preference as I can't really absorb lessons compared with face-to-face ones," she said, adding that she will spend more time on Economy and General Studies when school resumes.

Upper Six student Nicolas Chee, 19, said he could learn more effectively in class compared with online classes.

"I am ready to go to school. At home, the Internet connectivity is poor. I cannot ask questions properly on topics that I don't understand," said the Penang Free School student.

Nicolas said his parents also did not object to him returning to school but reminded him to be careful and exercise caution at all times.

"I am glad that physical classes will resume as our examination is around the corner," said the fully vaccinated science stream student from Batu Lanchang.

Muhammad Faiz Abdul Rahman, 19, still prefers to do preparations from home although physical classes will resume this week.

"I have been fully vaccinated but I would rather stay home to study as I am still worried about the Covid-19 situation," said Faiz, who is sitting for the STPM exams at the end of this month.

He said his teachers told students the school had made all the necessary preparations for the reopening.

"I will go to school during the exams. My teacher said I can continue to study on my own; no one will be forced to go back to school," said Faiz, who studies at SMK Haji Zainul Abidin.

Recently, the Education Ministry announced the reopening of schools in stages, according to the phases the states are in under the National Recovery Plan.

However, class sizes will be limited and students will rotate between physical classroom lessons and online learning.

In Ipoh, student A. Immanuel said he is nervous about going back to school as Covid-19 cases in Perak are still high.

The 17-year-old said he does not feel safe attending physical classes at the moment, even though online studies have been difficult for him.

"It was a bit difficult to adapt as I have been attending physical classes since Year One. However, right now I think online classes are the safest method," he said.

Student A. Vaanetheeban, however, said learning face to face in school is much easier.

"It will be easier for students to understand lessons in a classroom environment. I will be more confident and mentally prepared to sit for the coming exams," said the 17-year-old.

Student L.C. Khoo, 17, has mixed feelings about going back to school.

"Part of me really wants to go back to class but I am also sceptical," he said.

"I know people who became infected with Covid-19 despite taking all the necessary precautions.

"So it can be really scary. I am not sure how far the school will go to ensure sanitation is carried out every day, especially on the tables and chairs."

Parent Radha T. Gandi, 44, said face-to-face classes are the best solution, especially for exam-year candidates.

The mother of four added that it is impossible to keep children at home and away from school forever.

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