Children who are enrolling in secondary school in 2021 would have received their posting results on Dec. 22.
From then, the children and their parents would have had just under two weeks to prepare for the new school year, which commences next Monday (Jan. 4, 2021).
For some, preparations have unfortunately been rather rough.
According to a post in the Complaint Singapore Facebook group on Dec. 28, some parents have had an extremely difficult time procuring new school uniforms from a school uniform supplier, Jeep Sing Fashion.
Parents at the retail outlet at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 shared accounts of long queues and waiting times of over three hours.
According to The Straits Times, the crowd situation on Dec. 29 was so severe that the police got involved, with several officers on the ground to get the shop's customers to either space out more while queueing up, or leave.
What was the problem?
According to comments on the post by parents, the crowd at Jeep Sing was because some schools were unable to make the usual arrangements for uniform vendors to go down to the school premises to set up shop.
Parents or children hoping to get schools' uniforms would have to procure them from a central location at Jeep Sing Fashion.
Jeep Sing's website lists over 15 secondary schools, though it is not known whether it is the only retailer for all of the schools' uniforms.
Queue and ticket system
Jeep Sing said on its website that customers are "required to take a queue number prior to entering the retail store," explaining that this was due to safe distancing measures.
However, the requirement for parents to queue up for queue numbers appears to have contributed to the crowd situation, as some parents turned up as early as 8am — two hours before the shop's opening hours.
Even then, some were still unable to get a queue number.
The situation led one parent to appeal to authority:
After all, the parent reasoned, the annual enrolment exercise should not have caught anyone by surprise.
What is the situation now?
A "live" queue monitoring tracker on Jeep Sing's website indicates that they are at close to 100 per cent capacity for the whole week.
It's not clear whether the "UPDATED" status of the tracker is to be relied on, however, given that Jeep Sing has said that it will be closed on New Year's Day this Friday.
One commenter reasoned from the shop's perspective, saying that a lack of manpower due to reliance on foreign labour could be the cause of the delays, but acknowledged that organisation could be better.
"Working around the clock"
Meanwhile, Jeep Sing's website has a message to customers apologising for the delays, citing a "massive increase in online orders" as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said that it was "working around the clock" to fulfill orders.
"Dear customers, due to the massive increase in online orders and the COVID-19 pandemic, all online processing will take 14+ working days or longer.
We are regretfully Sorry that some orders may not be able to be delivered by the school reopening date.
We are ramping up capacity and working around the clock in order to fulfill your orders."
Suggestions from parents
Parents also shared suggestions on alternative arrangements.
One parent shared that their child's school had made arrangements for uniforms to be purchased on the first day of school instead.
A number of commenters suggested that uniforms could simply be done away with:
After all, children could hardly be penalised for not having uniforms when the supplier was unable to meet demand.
While another suggested that the vendor should cease its arrangement with the school, if it was unable to provide the uniforms.
Top image via Felix Koh and Agnes Konchok Choying Palkyi on Facebook