S'porean parent's petition urges school staff, but not parents, to test for Covid-19

But why should the onus fall on teachers, other people who are not this parent want to know.

Syahindah Ishak | May 21, 2020, 11:27 PM

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced 448 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday (May 21), including 13 who are Singaporeans.

Of these 13 cases, three are preschool staff who tested positive as part of ongoing proactive screening for all preschool staff, according to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

Online petition urging the government to test all school staff

Following this announcement, one parent going by the name Angie Chan has started an online petition in the hopes of persuading the government to expand their active Covid-19 testing to all school staff in Singapore.

In her petition, Chan expressed concerns of potential transmission risks that may arise in primary, secondary, and tertiary schools, which are reopening on Jun. 2.

"Had not it been for the tests, the three (preschool) staff might have been in contact with healthy pre-schoolers and staff. Transmission of the virus would be all but confirmed. As a parent, I am deeply concerned about the health of my children.

How can I send my children to school, knowing that the school staff have not been tested negative? How can we have a peace of mind, knowing that asymptomatic transmission may run unchecked? How can the society recover if the Government continues to pursue one sided policies like this? Complete testing of all returning school staff must take place if we are to put a stop to this crisis."

The petition has just over 20 signatures as of the time of writing.

Responses to petition call it out for being impractical

The petition was met with swift response from the public who questioned the basis for placing the onus of Covid-19 testing solely on teachers.

Those who disagreed with the petition wrote that the onus of testing would have to shift to parents inadvertently to be foolproof.

This is so as parents have been in contact with their own children before school reopened.

Ong Ye Kung: MOE will do its best to keep schools safe

In a May 21 Facebook post, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung addressed some of the concerns parents have voiced out in regard to schools reopening on Jun. 2.

In response to the question "I don’t feel safe sending my child to school. Can he do HBL instead?", Ong assured parents that the Ministry of Education will "do its best to keep schools safe".

This will be done through a holistic system of safe management, comprising health screening for everyone entering the school, staggering the return of non-graduating cohorts, good hygiene practices and safe distancing.

Ong added:

"Unless there are specific concerns arising from medical conditions, we cannot make attending school voluntary... It is likely that Covid-19 will stay with us for more than a year, and until a vaccine is available. We simply cannot keep our children at home for so long. The impact on their socio-emotional and mental well-being will be serious. Having brought community transmission to a low and controlled level, we should resume school, reclaim a sense of normalcy, while taking many precautions."

You can read his full post here:

Top image screenshot from change.org and Minister Desmond Lee's Facebook page.