On Thursday (19 March), the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) have announced that schools and kindergartens will reopen next Monday (23 March) as planned but with stricter measures imposed.
These measures include asking students and staff of schools, pre-schools, and student care centres who were overseas during the school holidays from 14 March to undergo a 14-day isolation period from the date of their return.
As for pre-school institutions, standard prevention measures such as frequent temperature screening for all staff and students would be undertaken.
In a Facebook post on Thursday (19 March), Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has openly admitted that many parents, students, and coaches would be disappointed and be inconvenienced as a result of this new decision.
However, Mr Ong pointed out that protection of the educational system and keeping everyone who has had overseas exposure to the virus away from the school population is of paramount importance.
Additionally, he also said that schools are required to temporarily halt all co-curricular activities, as well as to defer Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation.
If that’s not all, the National School Games would also be suspended till the end of the June holidays. Meanwhile, as a safety precaution, students are advised to sit further apart from one another.
“Our priority must be to protect the education system and keeping students safe. By protecting the system robustly, it can remain open, and lives need not be disrupted. Otherwise, many parents, including those working in hospitals and providing essential services, will not be able to go to work,” he said.
He added, “I know many students, parents and coaches will be disappointed. And many students and parents will be inconvenienced. I hate to have to do this, but it is critical that we protect the system, and keep everyone who has overseas exposure to the virus away from the school population.”
On the other hand, for students who are not able to attend school, Mr Ong noted that the school will support them through home based learning. As for schools where teachers have to be absent due to their recent travels, MOE will do its best to “support these schools and ensure that lessons are not interrupted”.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday (18 March), the Ministry Of Health (MOH) has confirmed and verified 47 more cases of COVID-19 infection in Singapore. With the new addition, the total tally of infected cases in Singapore is 313.
However, it is also worth noting that 117 cases have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from the hospital.
MOH also reported that of the 196 confirmed cases who are still in the hospital, most of them are reported to be in stable condition or are improving. Only 15 people are said to be in critical condition in the intensive care unit.