Ex-deputy health minister moots alternate schooling days, shorter hours

Secondary school students sitting for major public examinations have been allowed to return to the classroom.

PETALING JAYA: Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has suggested allowing pupils to return to school on alternate days as the number of new Covid-19 cases drops to a single digit.

Speaking to FMT, he said such a system could address concerns over social distancing.

“For instance, lower primary students could attend school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while higher primary students could attend on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays,” he said.

He added that school hours could be shorter, with different teachers taking different sessions so that they would not have to teach six days a week.

“What is important is for students to have some interaction with teachers,” he said.

Schools remain closed to the majority of students with the exception of those sitting for public examinations like SPM and STPM.

Lee said the education ministry must think out of the box to address the situation.

“Students need to attend school,” he added. “They cannot stay at home forever.”

He acknowledged the need for safety measures such as social distancing but said improvements could be made to SOPs once pupils return to school.

“It’s high time for them to start school again, at least a few days a week with shorter hours,” he said.

Schools in the country have been closed since March 14.

Mental health experts recently warned that the extended break from school could cause depression among pupils due to a lack of contact with their friends and peers.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 recovery rate presently stands at 96.7%, with no deaths recorded for 16 consecutive days.

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