All primary, secondary, junior college and Institutes of Higher learning (IHL) students as well as preschools will be closed for a month. Schools will transition to fully home-based learning (HBL) until the end of the month, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his address to the nation today (3 April).
This measure if part of latest efforts to enhance safe distancing measures and further limit social interactions within the community, said PM Lee. Other measures include closures of non-essential offices and further restrictions on movement.
MOE announced once-a-week HBL last week
This announcement follows exactly one week after the MOE announced that schools will implement one day of Home-Based Learning (HBL) a week as schools progressively transit to a blended learning model in light of the recent spike in imported cases of COVID-19. This began on Wednesday (1 April) for primary school pupils.
MOE said in its press release last week that it wants to progressively introduce HBL, so as to allow both students and parents to be better prepared should the situation call for more days of HBL as the ministry is conscious that moving to HBL will have impact on many parents and families, especially those without good home support. It also promised to put in place additional measures to help students with higher needs or who require more support for HBL.
Earlier, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung had attempted to explain why his ministry was keeping schools open despite calls to shut them down during this crisis. He said in a Facebook post on March, “With the virus being around for several months now, there is a body of scientific evidence showing that COVID-19 does not affect the young very much as compared to adults.”
He also said that if schools were closed, children would end up mingling in the community instead of staying at home, thus exposing themselves to more risk, noting, “In that sense, schools remain safe places for children, especially as they seem to be more resilient against the virus.”
However, just yesterday, he head of the World Health Organisations (WHO’s) European branch Mr Hang Kluge said, “The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong.”
Mr Kluge had stressed that age is not the only risk for severe disease, explaining that children can also be seriously affected by COVID-19 and emphasised the importance for people in every age group to be cautious.