Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rethink school closures

Labuan: The Chinese Chamber of Commerce here has questioned the logic behind shutting down entire schools just because one or two students are suspected to have or even been confirmed to have contracted the H1N1 flu virus.

It suggested that the Ministry, instead, opt for specific responses such as firstly having the suspected students quarantined at home and then only resorting to first closing the classroom before considering total school closure.

Its Chairman, Chin Chee Kee, said blanket closure of the school will only disrupt the studies of those who have not come into close contact with the affected persons.

He said already more than 30 schools on the island and Sabah had been closed for a week after one or two students had proven positive or at best only having influenza-like illness (ILI) and not the real thing and this was sparking concern among parents.

He said at the rate the schools are being closed, the earlier Education Ministry assurance that major examinations like UPSR, PMR and STPM will continue uninterrupted cannot be taken at face value.

"And what if after the school is reopened another student is found positive.

Do we close it again for another week and keep doing so until the end of the year?" he asked.

He also said it may be reasonable for an institution which had detected scores of students with ILI "but if merely a handful showed such symptoms it may be an over-kill method in curbing the spread of the infection."

Schools in Sabah, Perak, Pahang, Perak, and Penang had to be closed and daily tally has been increasing. The closure of schools was said to be a preventive measure and a Standard Operating Procedure.

Chin said if the same measure is applied to the banks and they keep closing because one or two staff may have H1N1, then it would cause an economic collapse.

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