Most preschool operators will wait until after the movement-control order (MCO) ends on Tuesday to reopen, as too little time was given for them to resume operations under the conditional MCO.
The Malaysian Islamic Kindergarten Association told The Malaysian Insight that its members are not ready to operate as they need more time to implement health precautions, such as social distancing involving small children and between children and teachers.
Association secretary Siti Ruzita Ramli said operators are also wary about guaranteeing the health of staff and children.
“The majority are not ready because the announcement was made last Friday, so the preparation time is short with many standard operating procedures (SOP) that we have to follow.
“It’s too much of a rush. Most feel they will be better prepared after the MCO ends on May 12,” she told The Malaysian Insight.
Preschools, as well as most other sectors, are allowed to operate under the CMCO beginning on Monday as part of moves to kickstart the economy.
Schools, universities and colleges remain closed, but preschools are allowed to open so that working parents could have childcare services.
Like all other sectors, kindergartens and childcare centres must follow health SOP, including social distancing, disinfection, hygiene, use of masks and daily temperature checks.
Siti Ruzita said the most challenging rule for preschools is to ensure social distancing between teachers and children, and among children.
“We are also worried about the requirement on employers to bear the costs of Covid-19 screening.
“We are also afraid if kindergartens become a new cluster, which will cause more trouble.”
The association has about 1,000 kindergarten owners.
Parents still wary
Preschools which have reopened, however, have found that parents are still reluctant to send their children to the centres.
Little Feetrah Child Care Centre owner Nur Saleemah Zakaria, 37, said she was ready to open on Monday and had made preparations.
She wanted to serve parents, especially those working as front-liners and those who needed to return to their workplaces.
The school was cleaned over the weekend and it also held a meeting with teachers on how to work under the new guidelines.
“It took a lot of time to prepare. We are also requiring that our teachers do a health check.”
Nur Saleemah said social distancing will be observed by dividing children into smaller groups for activities to limit exposure and contact.
However, 75% of parents of her centre’s 32 pupils decided not to send their children for childcare.
“I sent out a questionnaire and most parents said they did not feel ready,” said Nur Saleemah, whose centre in Bangi has been operating for nine years.
The Selangor Preschools Association in a press statement said owners are not required to open their business on May 4 despite the government’s permission.
The association said it had been inundated with feedback and questions from parents, preschool owners and educators on implementation of reopening under the CMCO.
“It is important to note that the MCO is still in force (even though) the CMCO began on May 4.
“Government policies and SOP do not specify that preschools should be opened by May 4,” the association said in its statement, adding that operators who choose to open must comply with health SOP and guidelines.
The MCO was enforced on March 18 to curb Covid-19, which has so far sickened 6,467 and killed 107 in Malaysia. – TMI