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Early childhood agency investigating Cambridge Pre-school park excursion for possible breach of COVID-19 rules

Early childhood agency investigating Cambridge Pre-school park excursion for possible breach of COVID-19 rules

The logo of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). (Photo: MCI)

SINGAPORE: The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is investigating an excursion conducted by Cambridge Pre-school for possible breaches of COVID-19 rules.

In response to CNA queries, an ECDA spokesperson said the agency was aware of the pre-school's excursion to Pasir Ris Park on Thursday (Mar 18).

"We are currently looking into whether the pre-school had adhered to the (safe management measures)," said the spokesperson on Saturday.

"If lapses are found, ECDA will take action against the pre-school and also work with them to ensure that future activities adhere to the prevailing (safe management measures)."

ECDA's statement followed a Straits Times report on the excursion, which said that the outing appeared to consist of more than 40 children and teachers.

The group reportedly had three picnic mats, with more than eight children on each mat.

Responding on Sunday to CNA's queries, Cambridge Pre-school said the photo in the Straits Times report was "taken from a distance and the angle seems to suggest a crowded sitting arrangement". 

"In fact, the children were split into small groups, with safe distancing between the groups. The park was also not crowded and the team chose an area with ample space," the school said.

Cambridge Pre-school also said that contrary to the report, more than three mats were used and the children were divided into 18 small groups.

A spokesperson added that the school has "photos to substantiate our claims" but would not release them to protect the privacy of children and staff.

READ: COVID-19 – Some pre-schools to continue policy of masks or face shields for children under 6 even after rule change

In its statement, ECDA said pre-schools have been allowed to resume more activities since Jan 1 in line with Singapore's Phase 3 reopening.

Activities conducted at external venues, such as field trips and learning journeys, are allowed with safe management measures.

Pre-schools must ensure that the overall group size is capped at 50 people, including children and adults. Children must be divided into smaller groups of up to eight, excluding teachers and staff. They should remain in their respective cohorts during the activities, and there must be safe distancing between the groups.

Pre-schools have also been advised to ensure minimal intermingling between children and members of the public when conducting activities at external venues, said ECDA.

"Children should not be brought to crowded public spaces, which have high traffic or crowds, as far as possible. Overnight camps remain suspended," said the spokesperson.

The National Parks Board has allowed schools and pre-schools to conduct learning journeys and outdoor activities in the areas that it manages since Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening in June last year, added the spokesperson.

Established in 1993, Cambridge Pre-school has nine pre-schools in Singapore. It also has pre-schools in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

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Source: CNA/dv(ac)

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