Parents reminded to follow SOPs while waiting for kids 

Crowds are typically unavoidable during pick-up and drop-off times at schools, as many parents tend to stick around and get out of their cars to make sure that their kids get in and out of school safe and sound. But with daily COVID-19 cases still in the 4-digits in Malaysia, large gatherings – planned or unplanned ones – are no longer a feasible option at any public space, including schools.

As of yesterday, 1st March 2021, preschoolers and those in Primary 1 and 2 have been allowed to return to classes in person after schools were closed for a large part of 2020. But concerns are being raised by teachers, parents and caretakers after photos of crowds of parents waiting for their children outside school gates on the first school day of the new year surfaced online.  

Crowds of parents outside schools a cause for concern

The concern for parents following SOPs while on school grounds was raised by Mohd Fadli Salleh, a teacher from Gombak also known for his good deeds – including helping to clear up 3 lorries’ worth of trash from a Chinese family’s house.

He took to Facebook to share his concerns about potential school clusters emerging from parents unintentionally gathering at school gates while waiting for their kids. Along with this, he shared photos he found in the comments section of Malaysia’s Ministry of Education’s (KPM) Facebook page to show yesterday morning’s situation at schools in KL and Penang, with parents and caretakers pictured waiting in crowds for their kids.

Parents crowds schools while waiting for kids - crowds
Image credit: Hami Masir and Mohd Fadli Salleh

In his Facebook post, he stated that schools nationwide have already been taking great pains to look out for the lives and safety of students, with schools reopening in stages since the start of January 2021. Preschoolers and those in Primary 1 and 2 have now been allowed to return to schools as well, marking the start of Malaysian students returning to schools and classes in batches starting 20th January 2021.

As such, necessary COVID-19 prevention measures such as sanitising spaces, social distancing and no gatherings of any sort are followed closely by schools. But cooperation is needed from parents too, who are part of congregations at schools as they need to come by to drop off and pick up their kids.

Parents crowds schools while waiting for kids - crowds
Image credit: Choco De Ichigo and Mohd Fadli Salleh

Cikgu Fadli shared examples of how the situation can be remedied, including releasing kids from different classes in stages, with 10-minute intervals between each class release so parents can also come by in batches to avoid crowds from forming. This helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 clusters emerging from schools, and avoid the possible challenges for teachers and students that come with school closures – a potential outcome if COVID-19 cases were to stem from schools.

But he reiterated that this can only happen if SOPs are followed by both school authorities and parents.

parents waiting crowd schoolImage credit: Nur Inara Faizal

Parents share same plight, and offer suggestions

Many parents and caretakers commented on Cikgu Fadli’s Facebook post, commending schools while sharing their concerns about parents’ adherence to SOPs as well. Some suggested that while parents may be eager to see their kids during drop-off and pick-up hours, gathering in such large groups not only poses risk of COVID-19 clusters forming, it makes it difficult for both parents and students to weave through the crowd to get to each other.

Facebook user Shahrul Izwan Sabdin, for one, commented, “The school has set up the place nicely [for the return of students]. Some are even releasing students in stages. It’s just that there are too many excited parents blocking the way while they wait. How are the students supposed to pass through [the crowds]?”

Parents crowds schools while waiting for kids - FB comment
Image adapted from: Shahrul Izwan Sabdin 

Another parent, Shikin Romlee, also noted that it’s hard to prevent crowds from forming at schools but hoped that SOPs are fully carried out, commenting, “My kids are in preschool. Parents are asked to line up to pick up their kids. So far, it’s under control. Hopefully, it will remain this way when schools are back to full capacity, because it’s always hard to control crowds waiting outside school gates.”

Parents crowds schools while waiting for kids - FB comment
Image adapted from: Shikin Romlee 

M’sian parents reminded to follow SOPs as crowds seen at schools

Parents usually stick around even after dropping off or picking up their kids for school to ensure that they get in and out of school safely. So it’s typical to see parents waiting around the school gates. But with COVID-19 still a cause for concern in Malaysia, parents are reminded to adhere to SOPs while at schools and waiting for their kids, so we don’t risk the spread of the virus among ourselves or our little ones.

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Cover image adapted from: Hami Masir and Choco De Ichigo

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