COVID-19: No Delays In School Reopening Schedule, Enhanced Precautionary Measures To Be In Place
Despite speculations that the March school holidays will be extended, schools and kindergartens will reopen as scheduled.
Schools and kindergartens will reopen after the March school holidays as scheduled, but with enhanced measures in place, the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said in a joint statement on Thursday (19 March).
This is despite speculations among parents and students that the one-week school holidays, which began on March 14, will be extended in view of the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases into Singapore.
Singapore reported its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases here, confirming 47 new cases of infection here.
In a move to ensure safety among students and staff in schools, the agencies said there will be enhanced precautionary measures that will be introduced when schools reopen.
The measures include issuing students and staff of schools, preschools and student care centres who were overseas during the school holidays a 14-day leave of absence (LOA), and suspensions of all co-curricular activities. Preschools will also do more frequent temperature screening for all staff and students as part of the enhanced measures.
14-day leave of absence (LOA) for those returning from overseas travel
The agencies will issue a 14-day LOA to students and staff of schools, preschools and student care centres who went overseas on or after March 14. Day zero of the 14 days will commence from the date of their return to Singapore.
“Students on LOA, as well as those who have to stay away from school due to quarantine orders or Stay-Home Notice (SHN), will all be supported via home-based learning, to enable them to continue with their learning,” the statement wrote. “Parents of school-going children who have questions may approach their respective schools for clarifications.”
The agencies also encouraged employers to provide flexible work arrangements for parents who would need to take their own leave should they need to care for their children on LOA or SHN, “to accommodate such exceptional circumstances.”
Enhanced hygiene and precautionary measures in schools
The MOE and ECDA will also implement the following additional precautionary measures for two weeks when schools reopen:
- Suspension of Co-curricular Activities
- Deferment of Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation
- Fixed exam-style seating for primary 3 students and above, and fixed group cluster seating for primary 1 and 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
These measures are in addition to the earlier precautionary measures announced such as suspension of large group and communal activities and staggering of recess times in schools.
Meanwhile, the National School Games will continue to be suspended until the end of the June holidays.
Preschools to do more frequent temperature checks
Preschools will also continue with their precautionary measures when school resumes.
These measures include health checks and more frequent temperature screening for all staff and students (twice a day for kindergartens; three times a day for childcare centres).
Preschools will also impose restriction of visitors, with parents to drop off and pick up their children outside the preschool.
Other measures are:
- Suspension of excursions and field trips while daily outdoor play and learning for the children will continue
- 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 times
- Limit the cross-deployment of staff across centres, where possible