Kids might not care anymore, parents say as school break goes on

A health worker sprays disinfectant in a classroom at a school in Kuala Lumpur. Schools have been closed since mid-March as part of efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Parents have voiced concern about their children’s prolonged break from school, with a lack of motivation to continue studying and the continuous need for childcare among their top anxieties as the country enters the recovery phase of the movement control order (MCO) with no concrete details yet on the resumption of classes.

Yafiz Jamaludin, who has two daughters in Year One and kindergarten, said his children were eager to go back to school when the MCO began in mid-March.

“But now, they don’t care,” he told FMT. “I’m worried my children will no longer be interested in school.

“As parents, of course we are worried about our children’s health, but we are also worried if they are not schooling.”

Yafiz, who used to coach the Selangor state cycling team, urged the government to consider the effect that the extended break would have on children’s long-term development.

Yafiz Jamaludin and his family.

He added that learning at home is not as effective as face-to-face classes for his children as they easily lose focus.

He also has the additional challenge of helping his older daughter who is studying in a Chinese school.

“It’s really hard teaching her as I don’t know how to help her in most subjects.

“I’m worried that she will be left behind in her studies if schools remain closed,” he said.

Rachel Che, whose son is in Year Two, agreed that students would not be able to concentrate on their studies if they stayed at home.

Stay-at-home mum Fadzlili Azaha, meanwhile, was more concerned about finding a safe daycare centre for her children.

“People are cautious about leaving their kids with other people under the current conditions,” she said.

“When people want to go back to work but are worried about their children, it will definitely affect them.”

She said she was disappointed by reports that pupils might only be able to resume classes next year but acknowledged the health factors involved.

Students nationwide have been on a break from school since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing MCO.

A source close to discussions on the reopening of schools recently told FMT that only secondary school students facing national examinations could see a return to physical classrooms.

“The plan is to suspend schooling for primary schools until next year,” the source told FMT.

If the plan is confirmed, it would see millions of children losing out on nearly a year’s worth of lessons in the classroom setting.

There have also been concerns that it would impact the schedules of working parents who would have to make daycare arrangements for their school-aged children.

There are currently no details on when schools will reopen although the government said yesterday that nearly all social activities including those in the education sector would be reopened in stages under the recovery MCO (RMCO).

Guidelines were also issued to schools last week, including the requirement for temperature screening and one-metre gaps between desks once classes resume.

Vivian Ho

Vivian Ho, who said she was “strongly against” any plan for schools to remain closed until next year, told FMT that children could get more studying done in the classroom as they feel “comfortable” at home.

She added that many parents lack the time to monitor their children’s lessons as they are busy with work or simply lack the patience.

“I have no patience when I am teaching my kid,” said Ho, whose son is supposed to begin Year One next year.

“I am amazed how teachers do it.”

Rowen Tan, whose son is also scheduled to begin primary school next year, said any plan for schools to reopen in 2021 would be better received by parents who are able to work from home or for shorter hours.

“But even with proper childcare, it will be hard for them to teach their children as teachers still do a better job of it,” he added.

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