Parents, coaches on high alert after two PE deaths in three days

Mohd Fauzi Yusof, trainee Physical Education teacher, conducting PE at St Joseph Institution.
PHOTO: Parents, coaches on high alert after two PE deaths in three days

A concerned mother of three asthmatic children has written a letter to her son's school after the recent deaths of two students during PE lessons.

Madam Norashikin Mawi's son, 15, had an asthma attack recently and the 41-year-old wrote to his school to exempt him from physical education (PE) lessons.

The operations coordinator said: "I would usually write a short letter to ask the teacher to excuse him from classes, but this time I added suggestions.

"For example, students who have existing conditions can wear a band so that teachers can take note of them."

Madam Norashikin said that the tragic events of this week has worried her deeply.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old student from Temasek Junior College died during a PE lesson.

Two days earlier, a Secondary 4 student from Tanglin Secondary School fainted at the end of a PE lesson and died in hospital.

It is not known if the students suffered from pre-existing conditions.

While these cases are unrelated, some parents are concerned for their children's safety during PE lessons.

The Ministry of Education has said that there are proper practices in place in schools. 

Sports coaches said that the problem often arises when students fail to highlight their medical conditions.

For example, there are students who do not inform a teacher when they are unwell, said Mr Fabian Williams, head coach of Fabian Williams Coaching Concepts, which offers coaching services in schools from the primary to junior college level.

He prefers to err on the side of caution, saying: "To be safe, I tell my junior coaches to always give the students the benefit of the doubt. I would rather the child miss a session than collapse."

Head coach of Epic Tennis Academy Eddie Lee, who has been coaching for 14 years, said that symptoms such as runny nose, cough or fever would be noted before each class.

He said: "We will ask the student, ask the parents and ask the students to look out for one another."

First priority

The father of two children said: "The first priority is the well-being of the child. All coaches and PE teachers are trained in first aid and are strict about safety."

Madam Shafiah Ahmad, 47, housewife and mother of three girls aged between 15 to 20, said that her children know their limits when exercising.

"They (my children) shouldn't allow anyone to force them into doing any strenuous activities when they are feeling unwell."

A student, who saw a classmate collapse and die after a PE lesson last year, says that she is more cautious now.

"If I am feeling really sick, I usually inform my teachers and stop attending the (PE) lesson," said the 14-year-old, who did not wish to be named.

MOE: Teachers trained to manage PE risks

RISK ASSESSMENT

Schools conduct overall risks assessment for the PE programme regularly to ensure that risks are adequately mitigated, a Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesman told The New Paper.

DECLARATIONS

Teachers collect medical declarations from parents so that they are aware of any pre-existing medical conditions students have.

PRE-LESSON CHECK

Before the PE lesson, teachers ask students if they feel well.

Those who are unwell, with medical certificates, and just recovering from illnesses like flu and cold, are excused.

VISUAL CHECK

A visual check is also done.

Students with asthma are advised to have their inhalers with them at all times.

WARM UP, COOL DOWN

Warming up and cooling down exercises are conducted before and after physical activities.

TEACHERD TRAINED

All PE teachers are trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to respond to emergencies.


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