KUCHING, Aug 31 — Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah has refuted the allegation by Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong that the government is ‘giving false confidence to our parents that it is safe when only the teachers, caregivers and staff of the preschools and childcare centres have been vaccinated’.
“I have never claimed that ‘it is safe when the teachers, caregivers and staff of the preschools and childcare centres have been vaccinated’.
“My statement was ‘Besides our initiative and commitment to ensure our teachers, assistant teachers and caregivers are vaccinated, we would like to also appeal to parents and families with young children to go for vaccination. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety of our children’,” she said yesterday in response to Yong’s allegation in a news report by The Borneo Post.
Yong has accused the government of putting up a “publicity stunt” with regards to the vaccination status of preschool staff, saying that it is “giving false confidence to parents that it is safe when only the teachers, caregivers and staff of the preschools and childcare centres have been vaccinated”.
Fatimah said the statistics were not plucked from the air but the real number provided by the taska (childcare centre) and tadika (kindergarten) operators themselves.
“The high percentage of vaccination rate among preschool staff was due to very good cooperation between the vaccination centre (PPV) and our ministry as well as Association of Kindergarten Operators (AKO), Persatuan Pengasuh Berdaftar Sarawak (PPBS), Persatuan Pengasuh dan Pendidik Awal Kanak-Kanak Islam Sarawak (PakiS), Persatuan Pengasuh dan Pendidik Awal Kanak-Kanak Sarawak (3PAKS) and equally important deep sense of commitment and responsibility among operators and teachers of taska and tadika in all divisions and districts throughout Sarawak,” she said.
Fatimah pointed out that currently, the National Vaccine Policy is for individuals 18 years and above, thus children of preschool age are not eligible for vaccination.
She stressed that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the opening of kindergartens and childcare centres in Sarawak are very stringent and being used by all kindergartens and childcare centres.
“One SOP is for teachers, assistant teachers and caregivers; another SOP is for parents before, during and after class. Latest guidelines or instructions from the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) are to ensure the safety of children, staff and family members.
“The SOPs do not only involve physical distancing but types of activities that can be carried out, wearing of masks, sanitisation of the premises, teaching and learning kits as well as items belonging to the children,” she said.
According to Fatimah, parents are also given the choice whether to send their children to the centres.
“The opening of the childcare centres and kindergartens is to give support services for working parents especially for frontliners, and also for those who have to work from home.
“For instance, teachers conducting online classes will be having problems carrying the task if they have to look after their small kids at the same time. If they opt to send their children to other family members or neighbours, there is no assurance of monitoring of SOP compliance,” she said.
In addition, Fatimah said a total of 2,954 (95 per cent) early childhood institutions have applied for their special annual grants as of August 30, and 2,310 (78 per cent) had received the grants while the remaining 644 (12 per cent) centres were still awaiting payments due to submission of incomplete documents.
“Operators of taska and tadika can use part of the grant to procure Covid-19 related intervention paraphernalia, sanitizers, masks or shield and also to pay for sanitisation cost to comply with stringent SOP at all centres.
“We do hope that this issue is not politicised. The ministry is committed to ensuring the safety of each and everyone at our taska and tadika,” she added. — Borneo Post