All primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and Millenia Institute, as well as special education schools, will shift to full home-based learning (HBL) from Wednesday (19 May) to 28 May, following the evolving new strains of COVID-19 in Singapore, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Sunday (16 May).
In a Facebook post earlier today, Mr Chan announced that the move is necessary to significantly reduce physical interactions among students, given the sharp increase in the number of community cases recently.
As of Sunday at 12pm, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has preliminarily confirmed 49 new cases of COVID-19 infection, of which 38 are locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.
It was also reported on 14 May that several students who tested positive for COVID-19 were linked to a private tutor at a tuition centre.
At a press conference on Sunday, Mr Chan explained that some of the new mutations of the virus are “much more virulent” and “seem to attack the younger children”.
As such, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has decided to move all primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, Millennia Institute and Special Education schools, to HBL starting from 19 May until the end of the school term on 28 May.
In a statement, MOE said all schools will allow graduating cohorts to come back in small groups during the June holidays, and the mid-year GCE O- and A-Level Mother Tongue Language examinations will proceed as planned and with strict Safe Management Measures in place.
Institutes of Higher Learning will convert more classes online to reduce in-person attendance, except for essential in-person sessions such as labs, practicals and final year projects.
“These measures will hold until end of Phase 2 Heightened Alert or further notice,” it asserted.
In addition, all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes should move activities online until the end of Phase Two (Heightened Alert) on 13 June.
“We understand that this may cause some anxiety and disrupt the plans of many families. We will closely support the students and families with higher needs,” said Mr Chan.
Preschools and student care services, however, will remain open to support families, while heightening their safe management measures.
“Going forward, we will need other more sustainable solutions for our students and families without always suspending physical schooling as Home-Based Learning has its limitations if conducted over prolonged periods.
“If the community situation does not necessitate and if we only have sporadic cases in the schools, we will continue to adopt targeted measures and Home-Based Learning to ringfence the affected schools,” he added.