Despite the number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore passing the 455 mark on Sunday 22 March, and Singapore reporting its first two deaths from COVID-19 during the same weekend, most Singaporean parents still sent their kids to school for the reopening on Monday (23 March).
In a poll on the theAsianparent Community app, which asked our parents whether they would be sending their child to school or keep them at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, it appears that a majority have opted to send their children to school.
Prior to the announcement of the school reopening pushing through as scheduled, speculations on delays and even school closures were reaching far and wide in the parenting community.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that there will be no delay in the reopening of schools after the March holiday as widely speculated, but enhanced precautionary measures were put in place. The measures included issuing Leave of Absence (LOA) and Stay-Home Notices (SHN) to students and school staff returning from overseas.
Parents reported to sending their children to school as COVID-19 does not seem to be a short-term problem. Image source: iStock
Schools reopened in Singapore with less than 10 per cent on LOA
Only less than 10 per cent of students and staff, from all schools island-wide including special education (SPED) schools and MOE kindergartens, are reported to having to stay away from schools while serving their Leave of Absence (LOA) period after having travelled overseas.
This is in conjunction with the MOE and Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) previous announcement that all students and school staff members returning from travel on or after March 14, will have to take a 14-day leave of absence.
According to MOE’s director of schools Liew Wei Li, despite the schools being potentially affected by teachers going on a leave of absence or serving their stay-home notice, the “affected numbers are manageable”.
Speaking to the media, Ms. Liew further noted that the schools will be looking into making “necessary adjustments” to ensure lessons can be conducted in an “uninterrupted” manner.
She further added that this would also include hiring more relief teachers and “adapting timetables”.
“MOE will also provide all necessary support to schools, including deploying teachers from other parts of the education service to schools for up to two weeks where needed,” she said.
Schools will do what it takes in order to ensure lessons are not disrupted. Photo: iStock
Students to stay updated with Home-based learning during LOA
Meanwhile, students who are staying at home to serve their LOA notice will continue with their lessons through Home-Based Learning, put in place by their respective schools.
This would include programmes conducted through “a variety of ways that best suit the students’ needs”, Ms Liew added.
Students can also utilise the Student Learning Space (SLS). This platform contains educational materials and resources which can be accessed by all teachers and students. Teachers can also issue assignments to students using textbooks and workbooks, email them materials and send them hardcopy packages.
Home-based learning programmes will be in place to instruct students serving LOA. Photo: iStock
Schools reopened in Singapore – Safest places for children, Minister Ong
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Mar 22), Education Minister Ong Ye Kung noted that the enforcement of an LOA meant that when school reopened “come Monday, every student, teacher, staff, canteen stall operator in school would not have gone overseas since the start of the March school holidays.”
He also noted that there would be further checks at all school gates to ensure every individual’s travel history.
“Actually, part of the reason for the tougher border measures is to ensure we keep Singapore as safe as possible, so that daily activities, like going to work, eating out and attending school, can go on,” he added.
In addition to the LOA enforcement and home-based learning programme, other added precautionary measures such as the suspension of all CCAs and extra-curricular activities, exam-style seating and staggered recess timings, have been implemented to ensure that schools remain “safe places for children.”
“Implemented together, these measures will serve as a robust layer of system defence, complementing the natural defence children may already have, to enable school to continue,” Minister Ong noted.