Step up schoolchildren's vaccination before new school year starts – MP
6 February 2022
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Education is told to continue online teaching and learning (PdPR) during the three weeks’ period between the end of the Chinese New Year break and the start of the new schooling year on March 21.
Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said primary school students that have not been vaccinated should not be forced to attend physical classes for now.
“Since the new schooling year will only be starting on March 21 as fixed by the Ministry, there is no need for a rush to return to school physically now. Even if school children were made to attend class now, they would only be reviewing last year’s syllabus and not be learning anything new.
“In the next three weeks, the Ministry of Health has to step up vaccination of schoolchildren across the country, so that the new schooling year will not be disturbed and threatened by any new Covid-19 waves,” he said in a statement today.
Yesterday, Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Md Jidin disclosed that between January 1 and February 1, 100 Covid-19 infection clusters came from educational institutions, of which 84 of the clusters were from boarding schools.
In Sabah itself, 17 educational infection clusters were declared in the past three weeks, and as a result, the Sabah state government had issued a direction that any school with more than two confirmed cases must be closed for seven days.
In addition to infection clusters from educational institutions, the relaxation of the SOP for the Chinese New Year has also brought on more social activities, which has also unfortunately extended the chain of transmission of Covid-19.
“With the combination of the educational institutions’ infection clusters and the Chinese New Year’s infection clusters, one can expect to see a sharp increase in Covid-19 positive cases in the next few days and weeks.
“Is it worth the risk to require primary school students (ages five to 11) who have not yet been vaccinated to physically attend classes right now?
“The new schooling year will only start on March 21, and even if school children were made to attend class now, they would only be reviewing last year’s syllabus and not be learning anything new. So why not wait until all these schoolchildren are fully vaccinated before making them attend class in school physically.
“Whilst waiting for the completion of vaccination, let primary school students go back to online learning. Hopefully, by the start of the new schooling year in March and with most of these students being fully inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine, they can then safely attend classes in school,” he asserted.
He added that in Sabah, the Health Department has launched the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) at 251 vaccination facilities all around Sabah starting from February 5, to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 years against Covid-19.
Chan also suggested that since the children's Covid-19 vaccination program has been launched, it would be a good idea for the Ministry of Health to work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Education in the three weeks before March 21 to step up the vaccination of school children.
This is so that after the start of the new school year, most of these school children would have received their vaccination and be able to go back to school with additional protection against Covid-19.
“With vaccinations of school children, schools would also no longer be required to open and close as frequently, even with the increase in cases elsewhere,” he said.
Chan also emphasised that no matter how strict the SOP is, schoolchildren who have not been vaccinated will definitely bear a certain risk of being infected by Covid-19 without the vaccine because they return to school and come into contact with others.
“The Ministry of Education still has a chance to ensure a safe environment from Covid-19 for our school children, and I hope Radzi will do everything necessary to see it through,” he said.