Next-phase school reopening in Miri, Subis districts postponed to March 22, says disaster management committee

A firefighter conducts sanitisation works on a hostel block at SMK Bakong in Beluru. — Borneo Post Online pic
A firefighter conducts sanitisation works on a hostel block at SMK Bakong in Beluru. — Borneo Post Online pic

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MIRI, March 15 — The Miri Division Disaster Management Committee (MDDMC) has decided to postpone the next-phase reopening of primary schools in Miri and Subis districts to March 22 — a week later than scheduled.

This decision was reached during a discussion yesterday, which involved 21 primary school headmasters, three representatives of parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and local community leaders.

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who is the minister-in-charge of the MDDMC, said he had spoken to the headmasters, PTA representatives and community leaders and asked for their feedback regarding the reopening of the primary schools in the two districts, which had been met with objections from many parents.

Initially, the plan was to reopen the primary schools today (March 15).

“Seventeen of the headmasters have unanimously agreed that physical classes at these schools should be postponed due to the worrying Covid-19 situation here.

“Thus, after meeting with all members of MDDMC, and after the discussion with Sarawak Education Department director, we have come to this decision to only reopen the primary schools on March 22,” said Lee, who is Senadin assemblyman, in a statement yesterday.

He added that any update regarding this matter would be made known later.

Meanwhile, primary schools in Marudi, Telang Usan and Beluru districts would reopen today according to schedule.

It is reported that a total of 1,045 primary schools in Sarawak have been opened since March 1, following risk assessment of the Covid-19 situation in the state.

The reopening had been conducted in phases, starting with 814 schools on March 1, and 231 schools on March 8.

The next phase for reopening should have been today, involving 220 primary schools in Covid-19 high-risk areas covering Kuching, Padawan, Betong, Sibu, Kanowit, Meradong, Kapit, Bintulu and Miri districts.

According to Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, it had discussed with the state Education Department and reached a decision to have these 220 schools to remain closed until March 14.

Meanwhile, the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) together with the managements of schools in this division had been doing their best in preparing students for the next phase of reopening.

According to Bomba Miri operations officer Jessbent Jenus, his side had been assisting 17 education institutions here — covering institutes and colleges, primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens — in conducting sanitisation works on their compounds since January this year.

“The schools covered include Miri Community College and Miri ILP (Industrial Training Institute). Our personnel have gone out to guide the administrative staff members of these schools as well as contractors on the proper sanitisation methods so that eventually, they can conduct the works on their own, on daily basis,” he told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

Jessbent also said there were schools that had been doing their own sanitisation works, after having undergone a series of briefings conducted by Bomba Miri last year.

He said these briefings included some demonstrations, mostly on preparing the disinfection solutions using the right ratio of chemicals and proper administration of the solution on different surface areas.

“So far, Bomba Miri has conducted a total of 10 sanitisation drills — six covering government-owned premises, and four covering private premises,” he added. — Borneo Post Online