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School reopening, in-person learning to start in stages

NationalSchool reopening, in-person learning to start in stages

High school students and staff will make their return for in-person teaching and learning in January for the first 2022 academic session next year. 

Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman announced the reopening of school on January 3, 2022, for primary and secondary schools, sixth form centres, vocational schools and Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) under the Ministry of Education and private schools. 

Face-to-face classes, on the other hand, will be implemented in stages. 

Additionally, the minister stated that international schools, training centres, IBTEs, as well as public and private higher educational institutions would begin academic sessions in accordance with their respective academic calendars. 

The minister said the phased reopening of schools seeks to monitor the infection situation among students, instructors, and staff of the education institution and inculcate the new normal among IBTE, public and private higher education institutes IPTA and IPTS. 

“In this initial stage and in ensuring the well-being of both the students and school staff, MoE has developed a whole-school-modification approach and guidelines as well as comprehensive measures for schools to implement upon the school reopening”, said the minister. 

According to the minister, teachers and non-teaching staff who have completed their second dose of the vaccine will undergo the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) once a week beginning in January 2022 until an assessment is made for its implementation.  

“This is an addition to the schools’ existing business continuity plan (BCP)”, the minister added. 

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah emphasised that the ministry will execute the in-person teaching-and-learning session in two phases in accordance with the ministry’s focus on prioritising fully vaccinated students. 

The first phase will begin on January 3, 2022. 

The minister explained that in-person teaching and learning for secondary students in Year 10 and Year 11 will be conducted five times a week, including special needs students from Priority Level 1 and 2. Whereas those in Priority Level 3 will only have to attend their physical classes once a week. 

For Year 12 and 13 students, as well as Priority Level 1 and 2, and special need students will also undergo face-to-face teaching and learning five times a week, while once a week in-person classes for Priority Level 3 students. 

“Meanwhile, teaching and learning for the remaining students will be made via online or Home Learning Pack (HLP). The first phase is planned to be carried out for at least two weeks whereby the transition towards the second phase depending if there is no increase in the spread of serious cases of infections among the students, teachers and staff as well as on the advice of the COVID-19 Steering Committee”, the minister explained. 

The minister shared that the second phase is expected to begin on January 17, 2022. However, its implementation will depend on the current Covid-19 situation as well. 

In the second phase, said the minister, in-person lessons will be carried out five times a week for students who have completed two doses of COVID-19 vaccines and the increased school capacity from 40 to 100 per cent. This is to be implemented for secondary school students from Year 7 to 11, including special need students in Priority Level 1 and 2. Those in Priority Level 3 will have to attend their physical classes thrice a week, and Year 12 and 13 students, including special needs in Priority Level 1 and 2. Classes for special needs students in Priority Level 3 will be carried out thrice a week. 

Lessons for students aged 5 to 11 who have yet to receive their vaccination will continue via online and HLP. 

“Students who continue to have difficulties with online learning will be continued to be supported by the school through the provision of HLP”, the minister stated. 

The vaccination program is still ongoing for both doses and booster vaccines. 

Efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic must be supported by all parties, including parents, in order to protect the health and education excellence among the students. 

To date, the minister shared that 98 per cent of the teaching staff have been fully vaccinated and urged those who have not done so, to step forward the soonest possible to support the nation in fighting against the pandemic. 

As of yesterday, a total of 30,455 students (80 per cent) aged between 12 to 17 have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Guidelines and Control Measures for Reopening

According to the minister, the reopening will also be guided according to the endemic phase guidelines for public and private higher education and training centres. 

The following are some of the control measures and guidelines to be implemented upon the school reopening shared by the minister:

  • The implementation of hybrid teaching-and-learning method, both online and in-person, depending on the suitability of the subject and modules. 
  • Students, teaching staff and individuals with one dose of vaccine allowed to attend campus by taking ART test every other day with negative results. 
  • The unvaccinated are restricted to enter the school premises. 
  • Participation in co-curriculum activities or attending functions or events such as orientations, convocations and meetings or seminars are permitted and joined by those with complete vaccination with negative ART results according to the guidelines for mass gathering with 75 percent capacity limit or not more than 300 people.
  • Study abroad programme, job attachments and educational visits are are allowed for those with complete vaccine doses with negative ART results and is subject to the current situation as stated in the media statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on 12th December on cross-border activities. 
  • Campus facilities such as hostels, libraries, sports facilities, canteens and cafeterias as well as surau will be opened with 75 percent capacity limit.

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