Preschools and Early Intervention (EI) centres will start to reopen from 2 June, and will reopen in phases, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said Tuesday (19 May).
The announcement comes after the multi-ministry taskforce said the COVID-19 circuit breaker period here will end on 1 June.
Preschools To Reopen In Phases, Along With Early Intervention Centres
Children in Kindergarten 1 and 2 will be allowed to return from 2 June, while those in Nursery 1 and 2 will return to the centres from 8 June.
Meanwhile, children in infant care and playgroup will be able to return from 10 June.
EI centres providing the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) and centres on the Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP) scheme will also reopen from 2 June 2020 in phases, starting with in-person intervention for children with higher needs, or who are only attending EI centres.
“All other children on programmes at EI centres, who also attend preschool, will continue to be supported with interventions remotely to reduce transmission risk across preschools and EI centres,” ECDA said.
“We will work with providers to safely and gradually resume intervention services for these children, with priority for K2 children. Details on the resumption of services for these children will be announced at a later date,” the agency added.
Image source: File
Preschools To Reopen: ‘COVID-Safe ABC Measure’ In Place
“The phased reopening will better enable preschools to ensure that staff, children and parents adhere to the enhanced safe management measures which we refer to as “COVID-Safe ABCs,” ECDA said. COVID-Safe ABCs refer to safety measures for daily routines in terms of Access, Behaviours and Classrooms.
ECDA said supplementary programmes such as enrichment and early intervention services—where providers may move across different centres—will remain suspended. “We are closely monitoring the situation and will advise when it is safe to resume these activities,” the agency added.
All preschool and early intervention staff are undergoing a swab test for COVID-19, through an exercise that is scheduled to be completed by the end of May.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that some 6,000 staff have been swabbed over the weekend, and an additional 2,500 staff were swabbed the following days, bring the total of staff swabbed to 8,500. Mr Lee said none of those who have gone through the exercise tested positive for the virus as yet.
“But given that we are going to swab some 30,000 staff, we do expect that there might be some positive cases,” Mr Lee added.
Enhanced Safe Management Measures
Meanwhile, ECDA said he first two weeks of the reopening of preschools and early intervention centres will be used for “strengthening public health awareness and building a culture of COVID-Safe habits among staff, children and their parents.”
Centres will have to adhere to safe management measures such as restriction of entry of visitors, as well as staff and children with a higher risk of infection, such as those with household members on home quarantine order or stay-home notices.
Image source: File photo
Other measures include compulsory mask- or shield-wearing for all staff and children aged two years and older, sizing down of group activities among children, as well as staggering drop-off and pick-up timings of children.
ECDA said it is working closely with industry associations such as the Association of Early Childhood & Training Services (ASSETS), which will facilitate bulk purchases for some of these tools and equipment such as disinfectant, cleaning equipment, masks and face shields.
ECDA will also require the use of SafeEntry and travel declarations for staff, children and visitors.
After services fully resume, ECDA said it will consider a “risk-based testing system,” where those returning from Stay-Home notices, for example, will have to undergo testing before returning to the centre.
Lead image source: MSF Minister Desmond Lee/Facebook
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