Clearer, more indepth SOP needed on reopening of schools, say paediatricians

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says schools will be reopened in stages based on advice from the health ministry.

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of consultant paediatricians today called for a clearer and more comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) on school management and measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

In a joint statement, the paediatricians said the SOP released by the education ministry recently was lacking in specifics, clear instruction and action plans in important areas.

“The SOP has not specified clearly how to encourage the 3Ws (wash hands, wear masks and warning) and how to avoid the 3Cs (close conversation, confined places and crowded places) for the students, teachers and administrative staff,” it said.

The statement was issued by National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) adviser Dr Amar Singh HSS, NECIC president Dr Wong Woan Yiing, Positive Parenting Programme of the Malaysian Paediatric Association chairman Dr Zulkifli Ismail and Malaysian Paediatric Association president Dr Hung Liang Choo.

While congratulating the ministry for completing the SOP, they said the guidelines need to be more comprehensive, with meaningful and clear suggestions that teachers and students can follow.

Among others, they said although the SOP included encouraging students and teachers to wash hands with water and soap, hand disinfection before entering or leaving a class is not specifically mandated.

The statement also drew attention to the lack of guidance for face masks or shields to be worn by teachers in class. It said students in the front of the class would be at high risk of droplets spread from teachers.

Other points raised by the paediatricians included management of student placements for crowded schools, policy for toilets, interaction between students of different classrooms, staff rooms, class ventilation, meal provisions, intra-school daily monitoring and funding for resources such as temperature scanners and hand sanitisers.

“Training for students and staff is mentioned in general terms and left to the discretion of the school authorities,” the statement added.

Yesterday, when announcing the recovery movement control order (RMCO), Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said schools will be reopened in stages based on advice from the health ministry.

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