Chan Chun Sing explains 'targeted approach' in handling Covid-19 cases in schools & not full HBL

MOE will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Fiona Tan | July 31, 2021, 03:38 AM

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A total of 129 students and 17 school staff in Singapore have been infected with Covid-19 over the last three months.

This number makes up 0.03 per cent of the total student population, from primary to pre-university levels, education minister Chan Chun Sing wrote in a Facebook post on July 30.

Adopting "targeted approach"

To handle Covid-19 cases within schools in Singapore, Chan said the Ministry of Education will continue to adopt a "targeted approach".

This means isolating close contacts of positive cases through a Leave of Absence or quarantine order.

Additionally, in "exceptional" cases where the situation is "unclear", the whole school might be placed on home-based learning (HBL).

Chan explained that this gives the Ministry of Health time to test and investigate thoroughly before re-opening the school.

He added that MOE will continue to monitor the situation closely.

A review will be made if any adjustment is needed and it will be made in line with national guidelines, as Singapore transits towards managing Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

Views mixed among parents about full home-based learning

Chan noted that Singapore is unlikely to see zero community cases in the short-term, and vaccination for younger children is currently unavailable.

Chan shared that there is a mixed view on transiting to full home-based learning  among parents and he can understand both perspectives.

In particular, he shared three concerns regarding the transition to full HBL on a prolonged basis:

  1. A significant cost to students’ learning, and socio-emotional and mental well-being, especially for those who do not have a conducive home environment for HBL.
  2. Many parents have to scramble to make alternative care arrangements which might not be better for the children
  3. Teachers will have to juggle additional demands of preparing and conducting online lessons while taking care of their families.

In response to these considerations, Chan asked: "What then would be the sustainable solution going forward?"

However, he reassured parents that schools remain safe spaces for learning with stringent safe management measures implemented to minimise transmission risks.

In addition, there are surveillance measures to detect potential Covid-19 positive cases as soon as possible, and ringfencing measures to keep potential cases out of schools.

The minister thanked parents for working closely with schools in enabling continued learning.

Through these collective efforts, he said the average attendance rate of schools in Singapore has consistently remained comparable to pre-Covid-19 period.

You can read his post here:

Top image from Chan Chun Sing/Facebook