From May 15, all preschool staff are to undergo a one-time swab test.
This is according to a circular sent by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to preschool staff in Singapore.
It was addressed by ECDA's chief executive officer, Jamie Ang.
As general services in preschools are opening up soon, all staff will have to do the swab tests as part of the "stepped-up measures" and to "safeguard the wellbeing of all children and staff".
According to the circular seen by Mothership, this one-time swab testing has been prioritised for preschool staff.
"Children are more frequently infected through transmission from adults, and there are less evidence at this point in time of transmission between children."
Tests to be done from May 15 to 26
The swab tests will be conducted from May 15 to 26.
It will be carried out over weekends as well as the Hari Raya Puasa public holiday due to the tight schedule.
The circular also mentioned that there will be four swabbing centres and preschool staff will be allocated to one centre.
Staff can only go to the swabbing centres via authorised shuttle buses at the following designated pick-up points:
- Woodlands MRT
- Tampines West MRT
- Dover MRT
- Khatib MRT
The entire process, including travelling to the swabbing centres, will take about one hour.
The swab test itself will take about six minutes.
Preschool staff can generally expect to get their results within 48 hours.
The swab test is said to be safe for pregnant women and wouldn't invalidate the fast of Muslim staff.
Risk-based testing system
According to the circular, ECDA will be looking at a risk-based testing system to protect preschool staff and children on a longer-term basis.
Those at a higher risk of infection (like children and staff returning from Stay-Home Notice) may have to undergo testing before returning to preschool.
More details will be shared with the staff at a later date.
Here's a full statement from an ECDA spokesperson:
"On 4 May, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce set out the need to open up safely in a phased and calibrated manner when our situation improves. To reduce the risk of transmission when services resume, testing and monitoring will be stepped up especially in settings with priority groups such as our seniors and children.
For young children, preschool staff have close and constant contact with children in an enclosed setting. Testing has therefore been prioritised for the preschool sector as part of stepped up monitoring to provide assurance to preschool staff and families to support the phased opening up of general services.
ECDA has informed all preschools that a one-time swab test for all preschool staff will start tomorrow, 15 May 2020. The proactive testing will involve around 30,000 preschool and early intervention staff, including principals, teachers, programme staff, administrative staff, cooks and cleaners. After preschool services fully resume, we will consider a risk-based testing system to protect children and staff.
We recognise that these precautionary tests will bring inconvenience to preschools and staff, and seek their understanding and support to safeguard the health and well-being of our preschool community.
The tests complement a suite of precautionary measures that have been progressively stepped up since late January 2020 to keep the preschool community safe. These include travel declarations from all staff, children and visitors, tighter and more frequent health checks, suspension of large group and communal activities, and restriction of visitors. Safe distancing measures and wearing of masks by preschool staff and children aged 2 years and older have also been put in place."
ECDA will provide further updates on the approach for re-opening of preschools in due course.
You can read the full circular here:
Top image from MSF Singapore/ FB.