The Ministry of Education (MOE) has backtracked on its guidelines just a day after news reports that all schools will begin gradual implementation of the TraceTogether (TT) requirement for entry from 1 December.
In its previous guidelines, which was published on Monday (2 Nov), the MOE stated that all schools will begin “gradual implementation” of TraceTogether-only Safe Entry from 1 December 2020.
It noted that December will be the grace period to which students can still scan their NRIC or student passes for entry to schools.
“While students can download the TT app, they may not have access to their handphones all the time during classes or outdoor activities. As such, students are encouraged to bring the TT token to school for ease of contact tracing,” the MOE stated.
Students who do not have the TT token or app, or have misplaced or forgotten to bring the token, will not be denied entry to schools, said the Ministry. But they might not be able to participate in certain school activities as they will need the TT token or app to enter public or commercial buildings.
These are in line with broader changes to regulations which require the TT app or token for entry at popular public venues such as restaurants, workplaces, schools and shopping malls as of December.
The MOE subsequently withdrew its order on Tuesday (3 Nov), stating that the requirement for students to use the TraceTogether token or app for entry to schools will only take effect after all the tokens have been collected.
This was despite the fact that the Education Minister, Lawrence Wong, is the one heading the Multi-Ministry Taskforce for the COVID-19.
Mr Wong said earlier on 21 October that at least 70 per cent of Singapore’s population has to be using TraceTogether for it to be effective.
“When we have both a higher take-up rate of TT and wider deployment of TT-only SafeEntry, and community transmission throughout this period remains low, then there is a good chance of us entering Phase Three by the end of the year,” he remarked.
CNA reported that the MOE’s guidelines will be updated to reflect the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office’s (SNDGO) statement which said that TraceTogether-only SafeEntry will only be enforced after everyone who needs a token has collected it.
It was reported that the distribution of TT tokens at community centres was temporarily suspended on 27 October due to long queues formed at some collection points.
TT collection resumed on 29 October with one constituency at a time to “better match demand”.
“More constituency CCs [community centres] will be progressively opened for the collection of tokens from October to December. By the second half of December, all CCs will be opened for collection, including the initial 38 CCs,” SNDGO noted.