SINGAPORE: Schools will try to resume co-curricular activities (CCAs) gradually and ensure safe distancing measures are in place even during physical education (PE) classes, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Wednesday (Jun 17).
Primary, secondary and junior college students will return to school every day from Jun 29, while university, polytechnic and other institute of higher learning students will return progressively to their campuses.
Schools reopened on Jun 2 following the end of the "circuit breaker" period, with graduating students attending school every day and other students rotating between home-based learning and going to school every week.
On Monday, the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce announced that Singapore will move into Phase 2 of its reopening from Jun 19.
READ: COVID-19: Phase 2 of reopening to start from Jun 19, social gatherings of up to five people allowed
With students returning to school every day, the Education Ministry intends to "gradually bring back" CCAs, which are “essential elements of school experiences”, it said.
“Schools will try to restart CCAs that can be conducted by coaches, instructors or CCA teachers through digital means. Such activities include dance, art and robotics,” said MOE.
For activities that are better conducted face-to-face, schools are looking at doing so at a class level, meaning students may not be participating in an activity that is their original CCA choice.
"Schools won’t resume CCA activities as we know it," Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post.
"This may be a new experience for some students, as they may not be doing an activity of their original CCA choice. But they will get to learn something new, as a class."
MINIMAL PHYSICAL CONTACT DURING PE CLASSES
For PE classes, schools will allow group activities and small-sided games that involve minimal physical contact, including badminton, table-tennis, volleyball and sepak takraw, with a limit of five students per group.
"This may require some creative change in game formats and rules," said MOE.
Schools will continue with their safe management measures, such as daily temperature-taking and visual screening for students and staff, the ministry added. Those who are unwell, or have household members on quarantine order, stay-home notices or who have flu-like symptoms, must not come to school, it said.
Students will continue to wipe down tables and shared equipment after use, and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned frequently. School premises will also be disinfected daily, said MOE.
Intermingling across classes and levels will be reduced, with fixed exam-style seating and staggered arrival, dismissal and recess timings. Students will sit in spaced seating arrangements in canteens where possible, and fixed groups of up to five students from the same class will also be allowed.
Students and staff are required to wear masks, but in situations where the wearing of masks “may not be practical”, they may wear face shields instead. For example, this would apply to students with health conditions, said MOE.
Having all students back in school at the same time is a "significant step", said Mr Ong.
"So, we will not ease the restrictions on other fronts such as PE and CCAs too much. We will take careful incremental steps," he added.
The minister also said that home-based tuition can resume, subject to a cap of five visitors at any time while maintaining a 1m safe distance where possible.
Masks must be worn by the tutor and students.
Temperature screening and health declarations should be conducted, Mr Ong said, adding that home-based tutors must also use the SafeEntry system to support contact tracing.
READ: MOE to review how to 'blend' classroom and digital online learning as schools reopen after COVID-19 circuit breaker
UNIVERSITIES, POLYTECHNICS TO GRADUALLY RESUME CLASSES
Universities, polytechnics and other institutes of higher learning will also progressively increase the number of students allowed back on campus at any one time for face-to-face learning, “while maintaining a significant amount of online learning”, the Education Ministry said.
Classes and consultations with no more than 50 people can now gradually resume on campus, said MOE, but all large-scale classes and lectures will continue to be held online.
Selected student activities, including project work discussions, fitness training and face-to-face counselling may resume gradually, and will be subject to the necessary safe management measures with at least 1m distance between individuals and with no more than 50 people in a venue.
“As of now, large-scale orientation activities will not be possible, but some smaller-scale activities can proceed, with safe management measures in place. These can include briefings, campus tours and non-contact ice-breaking activities,” said the ministry.
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All students, staff, vendors and visitors will be required to check in and out using SafeEntry when entering or leaving the campus. Temperature and symptom screening will also be carried out at the entrances.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks at all times, but teaching staff “have the option” of wearing face shields “in specific teaching settings”.
To reduce intermingling between students on campus, the institutes of higher learning will stagger the start and end timings for lessons, with fixed seating and safe distancing in teaching venues where applicable.
"While our schools and institutes of higher learning will continue to implement safe management measures, it remains essential that each one of us exercises social responsibility through maintaining good personal hygiene and safe distancing measures – wash our hands regularly, wear a mask and see a doctor immediately when we are sick," said MOE.
"As a reminder, staff and students should stay at home if you or a family member living in the same household is unwell. These collective actions are crucial in ensuring that our schools can remain open safely."