MOE says secondary schools, JCs, Millenia Institute can resume ‘lower-risk’ CCAs from 27 July; But MOH has warned S’pore must be prepared for second wave of COVID-19

Secondary schools, junior colleges (JCs), and Millenia Institute may resume “lower-risk” co-curricular activities (CCAs) and other school activities with safe management measures in place from next Monday (27 July), said the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Thursday (23 July).

The MOE noted in a statement that secondary schools, JCs, and the Millenia Institute will have the option to resume CCAs and other activities, adding that the schools will also have to ensure that the teachers’ and students’ workload remain manageable.

“It is now timely to safely resume other important aspects of school life to support holistic student development,” it stated.

Former Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung noted on his Facebook page yesterday that “things are stable” now that schools have resumed for about two months, and therefore some lower-risk CCAs for secondary schools and JCs should be resumed with safety precautions.

“CCAs are an important part of school life that students enjoy – something to look forward to when school reopens!” Mr Ong wrote.

The MOE listed some of the safe management measures required to resume CCAs, which include having a maximum of 20 students per activity and where possible, adjusting the composition of participants to minimize inter-mingling.

It added that groups of five or fewer can interact more closely during the activity, while modified game rules will apply – such as students having to remain at least 1 metre apart, even for physical activities.

Additionally, schools will continue to screen all visitors, including coaches and instructors, for flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough, and ensure that they comply with all safe management measures.

But such activities in primary schools will resume at a later date, after the MOE has assessed the progress of the resumption of CCAs among the older students.

“CCA experiences and school activities are important elements of our students’ holistic development. They provide our students more opportunities and platforms to explore their passion, build friendships, and develop character and resilience,” the Ministry added.

Meanwhile, some activities will remain suspended, including those that involve high levels of body contact – such as taekwondo sparring or rugby scrums – and activities that involve a high exposure to aerosol and splatters, such as the playing of wind instruments or singing in a choir.

Activities involving inter-mingling of students between schools, as well as activities held at external venues, will also be suspended.

The MOE said that there would be no mandated timelines for CCA resumption, while assuring that it will continue to monitor the situation closely and review its plans “in tandem with national guidelines”.

“We will also provide the necessary support to our schools, educators and students, as more aspects of school life gradually resume,” it remarked.

Netizens find MOE’s decision to resume CCAs confusing as MOH has warned Singapore must be prepared for second wave of COVID-19

However, it seems that many netizens are confused with the MOE’s decision to allow secondary schools, JCs, and the Millenia Institute to resume CCAs and other activities from 27 July.

A handful of netizens commented on Channels News Asia’s Facebook post – which covers the MOE’s announcement – saying that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had previously warned that Singapore must be prepared for the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Singapore must be prepared for second wave of infections, said Gan Kim Yong

Former Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong had previously warned that Singapore must be prepared for the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

During the multi-ministry task force press conference on 17 July, Mr Gan cited the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in places like South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong, with large clusters forming at religious events, nightlife establishments, restaurants, and in schools.

He noted that these new clusters emerged due to individuals went out when they were unwell, did not practice social distancing, or were susceptible to transmission because of workplace safety management lapses.

“We must be prepared for a second wave too, but we must do our best to avoid it if we can,” the Minister asserted.

Citing “useful lessons” from the situation in other countries, Mr Gan said, “That is why here in Singapore, we have taken a cautious approach in easing restrictions for some activities that we know to be of higher risk.”

“For others that need to continue to function like workplaces, we have put in place a series of measures to reduce the risk of spread in these settings. Some of these measures create inconvenience, but it is better to be safe,” he added.

According to him, the city-state should expect to see a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, following the “significant expansion” of economic activities and social interactions since the beginning of Phase 2.

Mr Gan also emphasised on the importance of early detection and ring-fencing to prevent further transmissions and the formation of large clusters.

“The second wave is preventable if everyone plays a part. And I believe that if anyone can do it, Singaporeans can,” he remarked.

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