PETALING JAYA: Academic education alongside soft skills is always prioritised by parents when it comes to their children’s upbringing.

With the prevalence of Covid-19 since 2020, parents have stepped up efforts to educate their schoolgoing children in personal hygiene as well.

As the pandemic has taught Malaysians, mask wearing, hand washing and sanitising are equally important in mitigating the spread of the virus, and the same applies to parents who make it a point to ingrain such measures into their children.

Finance executive Nur Sofea Muhammad, 42, said she always emphasises upon her two schoolgoing children the importance of masking up.

“Even though this is no longer mandatory, I always tell my 11-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter to keep the mask on except for meals or outdoor activities.

“We also made sure to educate both of them not to touch their faces if their hands are dirty,” said the mother of five.

She added that she would also send her 11-year-old son for vaccinations once he turns 12 upon the advice of her family doctor.

“We want to take all precautions possible. We cannot be too complacent as the virus is still around,” she said, adding that she also refrained from sending her children to school whenever they experienced symptoms.

Building manager Muhammad Haziq Mohd Radzi too voiced concerns about the Covid-19 situation, adding that the preschool his six-year-old son attends is very strict on hygiene, physical distancing and mask wearing during school hours.

“Masks are also compulsory at preschool and we always remind our son to take care of his hygiene at all times,” said the 32-year-old based in Shah Alam.

Muhammad Haziq also advised parents to purchase masks that encourage children to wear them, such as those with superhero themes.

Educationists too are urging schoolchildren to continue masking up, adding that physical lessons should continue as usual.

Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim urged all students to mask up when indoors and in crowded places.

“This includes school buses or public transport and the masks should also be well fitting. If there is an opportunity for students to be boosted, then consider it,” she said.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin concurred, saying that he wished schools would not be closed again.

“The home environment can be less conducive (for learning) due to a lack of interactivity. The lack of eye contact between teachers and students can also make learning difficult,” he said.

He added that the best directive for schools is to follow the government SOP.

“Schools should go back to basics, with the 3Ws – wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance – while also avoiding the 3Cs – crowded and confined spaces as well as close contact.