For the good of their kids

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Early childhood education institutions, parents to cooperate for children’s safety

KUCHING: With the expected end of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) approaching, more relaxations to various sectors have been introduced gradually – including the reopening of taska (childcare centres) in Sarawak starting June 9.

The concerns of parents over the wellbeing of their children attending taska can be assuaged as the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development (KWKPK) has prepared standard operating procedures (SOPs) and stringent precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the children.

Nevertheless, taska operators and parents have to work hand-in-hand to ensure the effectiveness of these efforts.

Taska Cahaya Horizons, a taska located in the Green Heights area here, had already begun its preparation process back in May in anticipation of reopening after the CMCO.

Ng Lee Boon.

Its principal, Ng Lee Boon, when interviewed recently, said that the State Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) had assisted in the disinfection of the premises.

“After we cleaned up, we set up the social distancing markers and other signage in our taska. Then, we had a meeting with our staff first to familiarise ourselves with all the SOPs and what we need to be aware of once we have children coming back to our taska,” she elaborated.

Next, she said a meeting had been held with parents.

“Parents really need to cooperate with us when they start sending their children to our centre again, because this is how we will be able to minimise the risk of any cases occurring,” she said.

She explained that Taska Cahaya Horizons had children ranging from three months to four years of age under their care, so she said one of the centre’s requirements was for parents to bathe their young children prior to entering the taska, and they would also be bathed before returning home.

According to Ng, parents and centre staff had to cooperate by limiting their movement to areas with many people.

“It is preferable if parents and staff can go directly from the taska back home, and vice versa,” she urged.

“We also only go grocery shopping on Sundays so that we minimise exposure and risk. This is part of the roles of the taska,” she said.

Although taska can reopen soon, KWKPK is still fine-tuning the SOP for tadika (kindergartens), which have not been allowed to resume operations just yet.

Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah explained recently that there was a much higher number of children enrolled in tadika compared to taska, thus the SOPs for these two types of early childhood education institutions (IPAKKs) were separate. 

Krista Matang, a tadika here, said that delaying resumption to a later date did have a significant impact on parents and also the centre’s finances.

Ameleen Thian.

However, Principal Ameleen Thian felt that even if childcare centres were permitted to reopen, some may opt not to yet if parents were still wary of sending their children in.

“It really depends on the parents’ situation as we exist because of parents’ needs,” she told New Sarawak Tribune recently.

Even so, she said that her centre had been taking steps to ensure they were ready to reopen once allowed by the government.

“We have been thoroughly cleaning and we will continue to do so. Bomba also came last week to disinfect the whole school. In addition, we engaged the service of a disinfection company to visit every month to carry out these sanitisation works,” she said.

She emphasised that centre workers needed to be screened first and all staff would be given training on health and safety measures.

“We will also educate the parents on hygiene and all the safety measures, such as wearing face masks and checking temperature. Parents must also bathe their children immediately after school and they should avoid direct contact with senior citizens,” she said.

She pointed out that one of the challenges was to ensure social distancing was practised among the children as it was in their nature to play with their friends.

According to Thian, good communication between these IPAKKs and parents was key.

“As there are limitations on the number of people gathering, perhaps once we are allowed to resume, we could give priority to parents who are both working and desperately in need of childcare services, or we could prioritise children whose parents are frontliners,” she suggested.

“Children do miss their school. Some parents have been forced to work from home due to these IPAKKs and schools being closed during this critical time,” she said.

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