Singapore Schools Resume On 23 Mar As Planned, But With Stricter Measures In Place

This morning (19 Mar), the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that schools will resume on Monday (23 Mar) as scheduled, after the end of the March Holidays.

The announcement came after many had speculated that the school holidays would be extended due to the massive spike in Covid-19 cases.

Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung followed the announcement with a Facebook post, reassuring Singaporeans that extra precautions would be taken to ensure the safety of students and staff.

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Read on for more details about the increased precautionary measures and Mr Ong Ye Kung’s take on the situation.

14-day Leave Of Absence for staff and students who were overseas

The most drastic measure being implemented immediately is the 14-day Leave Of Absence (LOA) for staff and students who were overseas during the March holidays.

This is in addition to the previously announced 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for all incoming Singaporeans and Singapore residents that will be effective from 20 Mar, 11.59pm.

Staff and students who were overseas during the school holidays are required to observe a 14-day LOA. This applies to all staff and students who returned to Singapore from overseas on or after 14 Mar.

Day 0 of the LOA will be their date of arrival in Singapore.

Students who are affected by the LOA will be supported with e-learning modules, as MOE aims to ensure that they don’t miss out on lessons.

Temporary suspension of CCAs, deferment of other activities

Mr Ong wrote in his Facebook post that co-curricular activities (CCAs) would be suspended in all schools for 2 weeks.

The Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation, as well as the National School Games (NSG) will both be deferred.

NSG will be suspended until the end of the June Holidays (30 May-28 Jun). The SYF Arts Presentation has yet to be given an estimated replacement date.

More precautionary measures when schools resume

According to MOE’s announcement, schools – including kindergartens- will be adhering to the following enhanced precautionary measures once school resumes.

They are:

  • Fixed exam-style seating for primary 3 students and above
  • Fixed group seating for primary 1, primary 2 and MOE Kindergarten students
  • Wipe-down routine in classrooms
  • Assigned seating and wipe-down routine in canteens
  • Assigned play areas for students to play in reduced group sizes
  • Staggered recess timings
  • Suspension of large group activities and gatherings.

Pre-schools will be following these precautionary measures instead:

  • Health checks and more frequent temperature screening for all staff and students
  • Restriction of visitors into the preschool. Parents must drop off and pick up their children outside the preschool and stand further apart from one another
  • Suspension of excursions and field trips. Daily outdoor play and learning for the children will continue.
  • Limit the cross-deployment of staff across centres, where possible
  • Suspension of large group and communal activities such as assemblies and mass celebrations:
    • Children to proceed directly to classrooms when they arrive in school, where possible
    • Programmes and activities to be carried out in small groups
    • Children to have their meals in their classrooms or to stagger meal time.

Minister Ong Ye Kung reassures Singaporeans

In his Facebook post, Mr Ong explained that he sympathised with the many worried parents and teachers, as well as disappointed students.

He wrote,

I know many students, parents and coaches will be disappointed. And many students and parents will be inconvenienced. I hate to have to do this, but it is critical that we protect the system

Given how the situation here is once again worsening rapidly, it’s crucial that we do what we can to contain it.

With the enhanced measures, school is safe to attend. Still, these measures shouldn’t be taken for granted and students and teachers should still do their best and be cautious of their own health and hygiene.

If you feel unwell, please consult a doctor at a Public Health Preparedness Clinic, and avoid contact with others. After all, we’re responsible for their health and safety, too.

Featured image adapted from Facebook