Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman during a press conference at the Ministry of Health. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

With the COVID-19 situation in the sultanate currently under control, the government has announced additional de-escalation measures, extending them to tuition and music schools across the sultanate, which will come into effect on Friday, June 5.

This was revealed by the Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar during a press conference, adding that the decision came with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

“The additional reduction of social distancing measures this time will involve tuition schools and music schools, whereby only one-on-one classes are allowed at this time,” he said.

For illustration purposes: Musicians seen playing guitars and bass in a private event. Image: The Bruneian

With this in mind, managers of the premises mentioned above are required to obtain a specific BruHealth QR code for their premises and display them at the entrance area for customers to scan, prior to entering and upon leaving.

They must also conduct body temperature checks on all customers at the entrance, to ensure customers obey the guidelines of social distancing. 

Premise managers were also encouraged to advise individuals who show signs of infection and high risk individuals to not come to the premises.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Health would like to inform that the public is required to comply with all regulations and directives related to the reduction of social distancing measures,” he reminded the public.

A staff at McDonald’s seen taking temperature of a customer at the Gadong branch. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“Any individual found to be in violation of or disobey any order issued shall be an offense under the Infectious Diseases Act (Section 204) which carries a fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to six months or both,” he added.

“The ministry will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone who does not comply with the directives issued,” continued the minister.

Also present during the press conference was the Minister of Education, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman, who proceeded to provide updates on the reopening of schools which commenced on June 2.

According to the Education Minister, the first phase of the reopening of schools involved students who are sitting for public exams, accounting for 25.5 percent (23,103 students) of the overall students in Brunei Darussalam.

For illustration purposes: Students listening to a presentation. Image: The Bruneian

“From this figure, about 91.5 percent have attended schools, showing the commitment and trust of parents and guardians in the country’s school system, despite the country still being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

He added that the ministry will continue to monitor the situation via online reporting, with initial findings indicating that staff and students are receptive of the social distancing measures that are set up by the respective schools.

“Currently, all schools under the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs have activated their respective QR code, as advised by the MoH,” the minister continued, adding that the QR code has also enabled the ministry to designate staff into ‘vulnerable’ and ‘non-vulnerable’ groups.

For illustration purposes: A local school in the Belait District. Image: Shutterstock

YB Dato Hj Hamzah went on to say that COVID-19 has proven be a transformative force even for the education sector, noting the online learning approach that was employed by schools and educational institutions nationwide during the shutdown previously.

“We recognize that online learning falls in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and as such represents the way forward for education, therefore improvements of technology based learning will be conducted once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided”.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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