More People Will Be Placed On Leave Of Absence: ECDA

As a result of the spike in Covid-19 cases, Singapore will again be placed on tighter restrictions from 27 Sep to 24 Oct.

Singaporeans with young children might be particularly concerned about the emergence of preschool clusters.

Thus, preschools will similarly implement tighter measures during this period, including disallowing parents from entering the premises.

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This is even if their children are newly enrolled.

Many preschool cases due to household transmission

In a statement on Friday (24 Sep), the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) stated the need to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in preschools.

They noted that many of the preschool cases so far have arisen due to household transmissions, i.e. the children were infected by family members.

Hence, safe management measures (SMMs) will be tightened from 27 Sep—the same day Singapore starts its “stabilisation phase”.

They sought parents’ understanding of the potential inconvenience, as the measures are necessary to protect children and staff.

Parents not allowed for 1 month

For a start, parents won’t be allowed in preschool premises for a month till 24 Oct.

This applies even if the child is newly enrolled.

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Similarly, no other visitors will be allowed, except for:

  1. those needed to support the running of preschools, e.g. contractors
  2. those required to perform necessary functions, e.g. licensing officers

Enrichment programmes to go online or be suspended

Enrichment programmes will move online or be suspended till 10 Oct, at least.

This is in line with the Ministry of Education’s (MOE’s) move to do the same for Private Education Institutions (PEIs), in-person tuition and enrichment classes for young children below 13.

The classes will be suspended if it’s not possible to move them online.

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However, certain supplementary programmes may continue in-person with tighter restrictions:

  1. Focused Language Assistance in Reading (FLAiR)
  2. Development Support and Learning Support (DS-LS)
  3. Development Support-Plus (DS-Plus)

This is because they recognise that programmes which serve children with additional needs are essential, ECDA said.

More people to go on LOA

In Jun, ECDA announced that preschool students and staff who have potentially been exposed to Covid-19 would be issued a Leave Of Absence (LOA).

Preschool Students & Staff Need To Take Leave Of Absence If They’re At Risk Of Getting Covid-19

People on LOA must stay home as much as possible and leave only for daily necessities and to attend to important matters.

From 27 Sep, LOA measures will be tightened, which will mean more people will be put on LOA.

How children/staff can be put on LOA

Firstly, children or staff with household members above 5 who’re unwell will be put on LOA.

For these purposes, “unwell” means that person has a fever and/or flu-like symptoms, i.e. cough, runny nose, sore throat and shortness of breath.

The child can return to preschool when the unwell household member tests negative for Covid-19 via either Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or Antigen Rapid Test (ART).

Similarly, children or staff with household members who’ve tested positive during an ART will also go on LOA.

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They’ll return after that household member has tested negative via PCR or ART.

Lastly, children or staff who’ve been served Quarantine Order (QO) may return to school after their 10-day quarantine period (shortened from 14 days since 11 Sep).

However, they must test negative for their last swab test and undergo a daily ART from Day 11 to Day 14.

If the child can’t undergo a daily ART, they can only return to school after Day 14.

Preschools will remain open to support parents

On Friday (24 Sep), it was announced that full Home-Based Learning (HBL) would be extended to 7 Oct.

This is for Primary and Special Schools, but preschools and student care centres will remain open during the stabilisation phase.

While this may sound like an unusual decision given that the stated aim is to protect children, ECDA also acknowledged that some parents need to work.

Hence, they need support to take care of their young children while they head to the workplace.

However, ECDA encouraged parents to keep their children at home if possible since work from home (WFH) is supposed to be the default.

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This is especially when children have underlying medical conditions like heart, lung or liver disease, or even active cancer.

Children’s safety is paramount

As Covid-19 spreads widely in the community, their children’s safety will be of paramount importance for parents.

That’s why they should know that the inconvenience that comes with tightened measures is necessary to protect their precious ones from catching the virus from their classmates.

As always, we should also bear in mind not to send children to school when they or any family member is unwell.

Hopefully, with these measures, the number of preschool children getting Covid-19 will go down.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook.