It's Back To School For Some Students On 19 May
Minister Ong noted that given the current situation he is aware that students have been anxious with regard to the preparation for their national exams as "home-based learning cannot fully substitute face to face coaching and lessons."
In lieu of decreasing community transmissions of the COVID-19 infection, schools are set to gradually open its doors to students in small groups, starting with the current cohorts of all those taking national exams this year. According to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, students will be invited back to school from May 19, as part of the gradual loosening of circuit breaker measures.
“We will focus initially on the graduating cohort that are taking national exams. And so priority will be given to those who require school facilities for their coursework and practical sessions,” said Mr Wong. The move to gradually bring students back to school will start from May 19 and will be extended to graduating cohorts, from Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5, Junior College 2 and pre-university 3.
The Minister was speaking at a virtual press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, over the weekend.
Back to school from May 19 for some students
Schools to open doors to small groups of students
While emphasising that the students will be hosted in separate groups, he also stressed that it did not mean that they were “opening up the entire school system.”
“As we go about doing this reopening of premises, the key requirements have to be put in place, and that is much stricter guidelines and requirements for safe management within the workplaces”, he further added.
Schools will also be open to those who require additional support during the school holidays, which was brought forward to May this year instead of in June.
“The institutes of higher learning, particularly the ITEs, will also bring back more groups of students on campus for critical consultations, projects or practicums,” he said.
Back to school from May 19: Students can choose to stay home
However, in a Facebook post on Sunday (May 3), Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung noted that although schools will be open to students in the graduating cohorts, the lessons conducted will not comprise of formal classes, and attendance will not be compulsory.
Speaking about the lessons that will take place from May 19 onwards to selected students, he noted that this “is a form of support that schools give students in the graduating cohorts every year, during the mid-year holidays,” and that given the current situation he was aware that students have been anxious with regard to the preparation for their national exams as “home-based learning cannot fully substitute face to face coaching and lessons.”
“It also allows students who need to use school facilities and equipment for subjects with coursework and practical components to catch up on their work,” he further added.
Answering the question of why national exams cannot be postponed or cancelled altogether this year, the Minister noted that “even during the circuit breaker period, essential services have to continue” and that “Education is a big part of people’s lives.”
He added that the preparation and sitting for national examinations are regarded as very important aspects” to many parents and students as they affect future education postings.”
The Minister further elaborated on safe distancing measures and efforts in place to ensure the safety of students and staff while at school, stating that the return to school will be done in a “careful and calibrated manner,” with both students and staff having to wear masks.
Students will be rostered to return in small groups at different days and times and will meet with teachers individually or in small groups. The classes will be held in well-ventilated venues with fixed exam-style seating.
Schools will continue to provide care for parents who work in essential services and are unable to secure alternative care arrangements.