Ooi overseeing hygiene at its optimum level before the school open.

schools finally reopened after almost four months of closure due to the movement control order (MCO). While most parents are still sceptical about sending their children to school, the kids themselves are excited to be able to meet their friends.

Kids excited, parents anxious

Schools are usually clamouring with voices and laughters of children enjoying their time with friends. However, the recent pandemic hindered their routine, with schools closed since the middle of March.

Nonetheless, as more good news were annouced after months of the movement control order (MCO), the Malaysian government decided that it was finally time for children to go back to school.

Gradually allowing students to go back in phases, kindergarten children were the second group that were allowed to make a return on July 1. But that does not keep parents from being sceptical about their little ones.

Adeline Sim and her two boys. Her youngest did not return to kindergarten during the reopening as she was still wary of the current situation.

Housewife Adeline Sim decided against sending her youngest son back to school. “I am worried as I don’t think a four-year-old child will obey the rules as they are too young to understand,” she opined.

The 32-year-old further said that it was even more difficult for teachers to keep watch on their students, “It would be nearly impossible to guarantee the children would not touch each other, or practise social distancing.”

Adeline however, plan to continue her son’s homeschooling through play-based methods and reading. She explains that at the moment, she will wait for the right time to send her son back to school.

Kelly maintained home learning for little Ayden.

Kelly Kong is another concerned mother who is reluctant to send her son, Ayden, to kindergarten so soon. “I have mixed feelings about the reopening as I was afraid if I let my son stay at home for too long, he would be too complacent and rejects going to school again.” However, the possibilities of asymptomatic cases worries her more.

“I am still worried about the virus and social distancing among kindergarten children will not be easy to implement as they are at their roguish age.” Kelly explains that at the moment, she will stick with e-learning and homeschooling.

Kelly is grateful that as a homemaker, she have the opportunity to be flexible about her son’s stay at home, “For me, as long as there are still no vaccines, there can never be a ‘best time’ to send young children to school.” But she is considering sending Ayden back in August after a month of monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, Amiey Alen had a different opinion. She decided that her four-year-old daughter is now ready for school. The 29-year-old mother revealed that she is excited but paranoid at the same time.

Her daughter, Amani Faaeqa was excited when told that she would return to school. With both parents in the medical field, Amani is well-informed of the standard operating procedures (SOPs). Furthermore, Amiey disclosed that Amani’s school had taught her about the importance of hygiene and the school practiced body screening since even before the pandemic.

“To prepare her for the coming school days, I bought sanitisers and face shields for her daily use,” said Amiey. She also sanitised Amani’s school necessities and also donated sanitisers to the school.

She also taught Amani how to social distance, and advise her against touching anyone’s hands, clothes or face. To allow Amani to better understand the scale of the pandemic, Amiey had shown her videos related to the virus.

Zaharah’s middle child (most left) attended kindergarten on July 1 after months of not going to school due to the pandemic.

Concerned mother Nur Zaharah and her husband always highlight the importance of following the SOPs to their children. By explaining to them that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin — known to her kids as ‘Tok Abah’ — wants them to exercise good hygiene, her children gladly observe the practice.

The mother of three shared that even though she had sent her middle child to school, she is still worried that he might not understand the severity of the situation. “While he does know what Covid-19 is, he doesn’t understand how dangerous it can be.”

With her child eager to go back to school, Zaharah explained to him how social distancing can break the chain of the virus outbreak.

After several days of reopening, a board member of Tadika Juara Gemilang, Kuching Ooi Peik See revealed that schoolchildren were extremely good at following the new normal. “When we first opened there was not a single glitch or delay as all the children understand that they must follow the SOPs” she said.

Ooi gave credits to the partnership between parents and school on educating the children about the dos and don’ts.

The teachers at Tadika Juara Gemilang had taken the initiative to produce friendly, funny and informative videos for students. This method, alongside the help of the parents, has been a big help in making the children grasp the idea of the pandemic.

As the news of the school reopening surfaced weeks ago, the teachers and staff members of the school were trained to handle the ‘new normal’ to ensure optimum hygiene, social distancing and movement control are in place.

Ooi disclosed that initially, she had a mixed feeling about it. “I was nervous but at the same time, I also miss the children after not meeting them for so long!”

“But the reopening came at the right time as most parents needed to go back to work. They can’t just leave their children at home unsupervised.

At the same time, young children need to socialise and connect with others too. Spending their time with friends and teachers is an important phase for learning and development,” said Ooi.