All pre-school staff, including principals, teachers, programme helpers, administrative staff, cooks, and cleaners are required to undergo a one-time swab test for COVID-19, starting from Friday (15 May), before pre-school services resume.
According to a circular issued by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the swab tests will be conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) between 15 and 26 May at four designated sites.
“Due to the tight schedules, the tests will be carried out over weekends and the Hari Raya Puasa public holiday,” the circular read.
The staff will be informed of allocated times and sites for COVID-19 testing. What’s more, they can only take the authorised shuttle bus at the MRT stations in Woodlands, Tampines West, Dover, and Khatib to go to the swabbing centres.
It is noted that the entire process for taking a swab test is about one hour, which includes travelling and waiting time, as swab testing only takes about six minutes.
Generally, the result of swab test will be available within 48 hours, as stated by the ECDA.
Concerning the transmission risk of COVID-19, ECDA’s Chief Executive Officer Jamie Ang asserted that testing and monitoring will need to be stepped up especially in settings with priority groups such as seniors and young children.
“Likewise, for young children, pre-school is an important setting where staff have close and constant contact with them in an endorsed setting,” she remarked.
Ms Ang noted that the swab test aims to better safeguard the well-being of all children and staff, given that the general services in pre-schools are opening up soon.
However, she stated that this one-time mass testing is catered for the pre-school staff.
“Children are more frequently infected through transmission from adults, and there is less evidence at this point in time of transmission between children,” Ms Ang explained.
Furthermore, the ECDA will also consider a “risk-based testing system” to protect pre-school staff and children on a longer-term basis once the pre-school services resume fully.
At the same time, the agency may require those at a higher risk of infection, such as children and staff returning from Stay-Home Notice (SHN), to undergo testing before returning to pre-school grounds.
“We recognise that these tests will cause inconvenience. We seek your understanding on the need to do this to better safeguard the well-being of all children and staff in pre-schools,” ECDA said.
In light of the circuit breaker measure against the COVID-19 pandemic, general services in all pre-schools have been suspended since 8 April.
However, pre-schools and student care centres will provide “limited services for children of parents who have to continue working and are unable to make alternative care arrangements” during this period.