COVID-19: Graduating primary, secondary students to attend school on weekdays after circuit breaker ends; others to rotate weekly

COVID-19: Graduating primary, secondary students to attend school on weekdays after circuit breaker ends; others to rotate weekly

Students will return to school in two phases following the end of the “circuit breaker” period on Jun 1, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Tuesday (May 19). Tan Si Hui reports.

SINGAPORE: Students will return to school in two phases following the end of the “circuit breaker” period on Jun 1, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Tuesday (May 19). 

Graduating primary school and secondary students, or those in Primary 6 and Secondary 4 and 5, will attend school from Mondays to Fridays when Term 3 starts on Jun 2.

READ: COVID-19: Graduating students glad to return to school as classrooms reopen for small group lessons

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Students in other cohorts, or those in Primary 1 to 5 and Secondary 1 to 3, will rotate weekly between home-based learning and returning to school for lessons. 

For example, in week 1 of Term 3, Primary 4, 5 and 6 students will attend lessons in school while Primary 1 to 3 students have home-based learning. In week 2, those in Primary 1 to 3 will go to school, while Primary 4 and 5 students will have home-based learning. 

For junior colleges and Millennia Institute, “arrangements will be made” for about half of the students to return to school at any one time. 

A “system of rotation” will be implemented to ensure that all students have “more than adequate” face-to-face time with their teachers, especially the graduating cohorts, said MOE.

may 19 back to school graphic

“They are taking their examinations this year. I know we've been trying to dial down the overemphasis on examinations, but I know these students and their parents are getting a lot more anxious,” said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at a multi-ministry task force press conference on Tuesday. 

"We want these students to come back on a daily basis to support them because national examinations are coming." 

Students from Assumption Pathway School (APS) and NorthLight School (NLS) will return to school from Jun 2 in a staggered process, allowing all students to be back in school by Jun 8.

“This arrangement will enable APS and NLS students to make full use of the school facilities for their learning, which is more hands-on in nature.

“Given the high level of need of students from SPED (special education) schools, we will also stagger their return to school from Jun 2 and allow all students to be back in school by Jun 8.”  

READ: COVID-19: Graduating students glad to return to school as classrooms reopen for small group lessons

READ: COVID-19: Some students to be allowed to go back to school from May 19 under easing of circuit breaker

K1 and K2 children in MOE kindergartens will also return to school from Jun 2, said the ministry. 

Phase 2 will take place “in tandem with broader easing at the national level, possibly in a few weeks’ time”, which will see all students return to school from Mondays to Fridays, said the education ministry. 

For parents who work in essential services or those who need to return to work after Jun 2 and cannot find alternative care arrangements, their children can do their home-based learning in school. 

“Contact the school, we are able to take in the child. The child will have a place to do his own home-based learning with some supervision," said Mr Ong. 

"We have always done that for essential workers and children with high needs, and we will continue to do that and extend (it) to the parents who need to work after Jun 2 and don't have alternate arrangements."

READ: COVID-19: Pre-schools, early intervention centres to reopen gradually from Jun 2

READ: Polytechnic lectures to remain online after circuit breaker ends, ITE students to rotate between online and on-campus lessons

MEASURES IN SCHOOLS TO KEEP STUDENTS SAFE

With the return of students, schools will implement safe management measures to keep students safe. 

All students and staff will have their temperatures taken daily. Any students and staff members who are unwell, or have adult household members who are on home quarantine, stay-home notice or are unwell, will be required to stay at home. 

"We have 29 student infections so far since the beginning of this epidemic," said Mr Ong. 

"Two are from overseas, two are unlinked, and the rest are from adult members from their household," he said, adding that students will also be asked if any of their family members have respiratory symptoms. 

"If there is, we'll isolate the child, get the child to go home. When the family member recovers, the child can come back," he said. "I think that is really from an abundance of precaution, given the infection pattern of students so far."

Fixed exam-style seating will be implemented in classrooms, as will spaced seating in canteens or alternative venues. Arrival, dismissal and recess timings will also be staggered to reduce crowds, said MOE. 

Staff and students will be required to wear their masks or face shields, and schools will clean high-touch surfaces more frequently and disinfect the premises daily.

To “ensure that students remain active and keep healthy”, schools will resume Physical Education (PE) lessons when students return, with “strict adherence” to safe management measures. 

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“During PE lessons, students and PE teachers will not be required to wear masks when engaged in strenuous physical activities such as running and workouts,” said MOE.

“Taking into consideration that students may not be sufficiently prepared physically, the National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) this year will be cancelled.”

As for the upcoming GCE A Level H3 examinations on May 28, and the GCE O Level and A Level mid-year Mother Tongue Language examinations between Jun 18 and 19, candidates will be required to wear masks or face shields during the examinations, the Education Ministry said. 

Students on a home quarantine order, stay-home notice and leave of absence will not be allowed to sit for these examinations and will take year-end examinations instead.

Those who are on medical leave or are unwell with flu-like symptoms, such as fever or coughing, will also take the year-end examinations instead of mid-year ones.

READ: Transition to a 'new normal' after circuit breaker: How will measures be lifted beyond Phase 1?

READ: Singapore to exit circuit breaker on Jun 1, visiting of parents, places of worship allowed with restrictions

“For the examination on H3 subjects taught by Autonomous Universities, there are no year-end examinations. SEAB will apply an established procedure to derive a subject grade for students who miss these examinations due to valid reasons,” said MOE.

While all tuition and enrichment centre-based learning will continue to be suspended because they bring together students from different classes and schools, MOE centre-based lessons will resume for graduating cohorts from Jun 2, said Mr Ong. 

“There are students that attend centre-based learning to prepare for their examinations, they are part of the graduating cohort," he said. "These could be ... centres that teach Mother Tongue languages, or examinable subjects such as music and art."

“After angsting about it, we decided for this group of (the) graduating cohort, we will allow their centre-based teaching to continue, but it will be done in small classes, 20 maximum, short periods, one-and-a-half hours, and staggered timings.” 

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Source: CNA/ic(mi)

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