MOE Will Stop Issuing LOAs & AAs, Those Under QO Can Return

Singapore’s students prepare to return to school for physical lessons from Monday (11 Oct).

However, those who’re close contacts of Covid-19 cases might wonder if they’re allowed back.

The answer is yes, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) – as long as they meet just 2 requirements.

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They have to be well, and test negative using an Antigen Rapid Test (ART).

MOE updates Covid-19 precautionary measures

In a press release on Sunday (10 Oct), MOE made some updates to the existing Covid-19 precautionary measures.

They’re valid for the following institutions:

  1. Primary schools
  2. Secondary schools
  3. Special Education (SPED) schools
  4. Junior Colleges (JCs)/ Millennia Institute (MI)
  5. Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs)

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No more quarantine even for close contacts

Basically, when any student comes into contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, they won’t be issued a Quarantine Order (QO) like before.

Neither will a Leave of Absence (LOA) or Approved Absence (AA) be issued.

This also means that students and staff who’re now under QO, LOA and AA can return to school on 11 Oct.

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They just have to be well and get a negative ART.

In line with MOH’s simplified protocols

These relaxations are in line with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH’s) simplified Covid-19 protocols, MOE said.

As revealed in an MOH press release on Saturday (9 Oct), QOs will be scrapped altogether from 11 Oct.

That goes even for close contacts of confirmed cases.

This will help Singaporeans return to daily life more quickly, provided certain measures are met.

7-day HRWs will be sent instead

Instead of QOs, Health Risk Warnings (HRWs) will be sent to close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

HRWs last for 7 days, and students should immediately self-isolate upon notification.

They should then use a self-test ART kit to test themselves every single day before they go out for these 7 days, and send the result to MOH.

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If the tests come out negative, and they’re well, they can continue going to school and performing their daily activities.

Self-isolate upon positive test

However, if a student tests positive for any ART, they should self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

If they get a negative test after 72 hours, they can return to school.

If they’re feeling unwell, though, they should see a doctor and do a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

They’ll also go on the Home Recovery Programme unless unsuitable.

Discharge will come after an isolation period of 10 days (if vaccinated) or 14 days (if unvaccinated).

Check out this chart for a summary of the new measures:

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Students on HRW can take exams

Previously, MOE said students on quarantine would be allowed to take national exams.

With the scrapping of QOs, students on HRW will also be allowed to take exams.

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However, they must be well, and:

  1. inform their school they want to sit the exam
  2. test negative for all their ARTs, including on the exam day itself
  3. show proof of the negative ART result (i.e. a photo) to the invigilators

Students on HRW must also sit in separate rooms from other candidates, and 3m apart.

Candidates on MC can also take the exams if they’ve fully recovered – that means no symptoms and not waiting for a PCR test result. They must also produce a negative ART self-test.

However, students who’re confirmed Covid-19 cases and those on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) still won’t be allowed to enter school or take exams.

Getting our lives back

With the simplified protocols, more students will be able to avoid disrupting their studies because they’re close contacts of a Covid-19 case.

However, parents may be concerned that their children might share classes with a close contact even if they’re well.

As Singapore tries to aim for an endemic virus situation though, that may be a situation we have to live with so everyone can get their lives back.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook.