School closures not based on red zones alone, says minister

Education Minister Radzi Jidin says schools are closed due to the advice of the health ministry, National Security Council and state government.

KUALA LUMPUR: School closures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic are not necessarily limited to red zones, said Education Minister Radzi Jidin.

He said schools in other zones would also be shut if there was a need to do so, citing the closing of several schools in Kedah, which is not classified as a red zone.

“The criteria depends on the evaluation made by the state education department with all relevant parties,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today in reply to a question from Kelvin Yii (PH-Bandar Kuching).

On the proposal for schools in Sabah to be closed following a spike in new Covid-19 cases there, Radzi said the education ministry would need to get the advice from the health ministry and National Security Council.

Radzi Jidin

“If there’s a need to close schools in that locality based on the advice of professionals in the health ministry, NSC and state government, we in the education ministry are ready.

“Every case is different; every case happens differently. Like in Sarawak, more than 200 schools are closed. But in Kedah, we closed only five schools.

“It is based on the current cases, the risk and the way to manage these risks,” he said in reply to an additional question from Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai).

On July 29, the Sarawak disaster management committee announced a postponement of the reopening of more than 200 schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Padawan due to Covid-19 fears.

It said 213 schools in these districts would only reopen on Aug 17 instead of Aug 1, involving transition classes, Form 1 to 4, Lower 6 and Year 1 to 6. Preschools, Form 5 and Upper 6 students are not affected.

At the Dewan Rakyat today, senior minister for education Radzi Jidin said school closures were carried out by state education departments after discussions with all parties concerned.

He said the reopening of 213 schools in Kuching, Padawan and Samarahan, Sarawak, had been postponed to Aug 17 after inter-zone movement restrictions in Sarawak were enforced on July 29.

“However, preschool classes, Form Five and Upper Six sessions at the three districts will continue as usual,” he said.

He said this in reply to a question from Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) who wanted to know if the ministry plans to close schools in Covid-19 red zones such as in Kuching, Sarawak.

Radzi said the state government in Kedah had decided to place Mukim Ah, Mukim Hosba, Mukim Binjal and Mukim Padang Serai in lockdown from Aug 2 and closed four schools in Kubang Pasu and one school in Padang Terap PPD from Aug 2 to Aug 29.

Replying to a supplementary question, he said school closures would be discussed on a case by case basis. “Each case is different, as in Sarawak, more than 200 schools are closed but in Kedah we close only five schools based on the existing cases and the risks and how to deal with them,” he said.