SINGAPORE: All 39 classmates and 11 staff members at East Spring Secondary School previously in close contact with a Secondary 3 student who is confirmed to have COVID-19, have tested negative for the coronavirus.
In a Facebook post on Monday (Jun 29), Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said the ministry knew about the case late Saturday night and the school "immediately underwent thorough deep cleaning".
Classmates and teachers in close contact with the student were put on a 14-day leave of absence by the Ministry of Education or home quarantine order by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and sent for testing.
The ministry had also suspended classes for the Secondary 3 level on Monday and the rest of the cohort will return on Tuesday.
"As the school has safe management measures in place segregating each level from mixing, there was no need to close the whole school," said Mr Ong.
"I am glad we are able to handle the situation calmly and systematically, with the understanding and support of parents and students. This will be the new normal," he added.
The 15-year-old girl, known as case 43297, was tested as part of the MOH's proactive screening of school students who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection (ARI) at first presentation to a doctor.
Students in primary, secondary and junior college levels have returned to school every day starting Monday in Phase 2 of the lifting of Singapore’s circuit breaker period. In Phase 1, non-graduating students had to rotate between home-based learning and going to school every week.
READ: Home-based learning should be 'a regular part of school life’, possibly once a fortnight: Ong Ye Kung
Mr Ong had earlier in the day visited Ngee Ann Secondary School to see how it was coping with having the full student population back.
As part of its safe management measures, upper and lower secondary students take designated routes to their classrooms when they enter the school to prevent overcrowding.
Teachers also check with students if they or other members of their household are unwell. This is to ensure that the school can identify potential cases and prevent any clusters of infection, said the minister.
“With all students back now, it's even more important that all of us practise social responsibility to continue keeping our schools a safe place,” said Mr Ong.
Editor's note: The headline of this article has been changed to clarify the previous version which said the affected students and staff members would return to school after testing negative for COVID-19. They can only do so upon completion of a 14-day leave of absence or after they have served their home quarantine order.