Some 6,000 pre-school and early intervention staff have already undergone COVID-19 swab tests as a precautionary measure, with 24,000 more in line to take it by May 26 in preparation of pre-schools reopening on June 2. Personnel required to undergo testing for the COVID-19 infection include principals, teachers, staff involved in looking after infants and toddlers, non-curriculum staff such as cleaners and cooks, as well as all relief and new staff starting work in June.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Sunday (May 17) announced in a Facebook post that the one-time swab test performed on all pre-school staff scheduled to be completed before centres reopen will enable authorities to assess if general services will resume as planned at the proposed easing of the circuit breaker measures.
COVID-19 swab tests to be performed on a total of 30,000 pre-school staff before centres open on June 2. Photo: iStock
“Many have asked whether general services at preschools will resume on 2 June. We are assessing the situation, and hope to be able to make an announcement on this soon. In the meantime, please continue to stay at home as much as possible,” he noted.
“The tests will help safeguard the health and well-being of our pre-school community, and give peace of mind to the staff, their families and parents of pre-school children,” he added.
COVID-19 swab tests
Test centre operations “functioning like clockwork”
Swab testing underway at Temasek Polytechnic. | Image source: Facebook/Minister Desmond Lee
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung who visited the testing centre at Temasek Polytechnic noted in a Facebook post that each station at the centre was capable of testing around 30 staff per hour – or about one test every two minutes.
The centre is one of the five sites hosted by the Ministry of Education to perform COVID-19 swab tests for preschool teachers and staff.
The Minister noted that “operations [were] functioning like clockwork”, while further thanking preschool staff “for going through this discomfort.”
“But this is a good precaution to take, as they work in close contact with very young children and testing is a reassurance for themselves, their families, as well as parents of the children they work with. Many thanks too to the dedication of the healthcare teams, which include private healthcare providers, carrying out the testing,” he noted.
COVID-19 swab tests cause long queues at Khatib MRT station
Scheduling issue involving one of the pre-school operators, and staff turning up to take their test hours ahead of their test-slots, contributed to long lines at Khatib MRT station on the first day of testing, Friday (May 15).
Staff selected for the swab test will not be allowed to go to the testing centre themselves and will have to board buses at four stations including Khatib, Dover, Tampines West and Woodlands. The testing centres are located at four polytechnics, at areas segregated from the rest of the campus.
Long queues at Khatib MRT station. Image source: Facebook/Ministry of Social and Family Development
“The queues at early morning and mid-day arose due to a scheduling issue for one of the preschool operators, which has since been resolved, and some staff turning up hours ahead of their scheduled slots,” the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) noted in a Facebook post, commenting on the videos circulating online of long queues of pre-school staff who had to wait almost an hour to board buses to take them to the swabbing centres.
Despite long queues at Khatib MRT station that being cleared after 11am with the increase in shuttle bus frequency, the ministry noted that the “situation at transport points was manageable” and queues were cleared promptly.
MSF had previously arranged for groups of staff to be tested in batches between May 15 to the 26, in order for “tests to be conducted safely,” and further urged pre-school staff to turn up for testing only at appointment slot times allocated specifically for them.