SINGAPORE: Home-based learning (HBL) will be implemented for students from Primary 1 to 5 from Sep 27 until the end of the Primary School Leaving Examination, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Saturday (Sep 18).
Primary 6 students will go on a "study break" before their PSLE from Sep 25 to 29, similar to the arrangements for the 2020 year-end national examinations, the ministry added in a press release.
"This is to minimise the risk of school-based transmissions and reduce the number of students placed on Quarantine Order (QO) or Leave of Absence (LOA) prior to the examination," said MOE.
The written papers for the PSLE will commence on Sep 30 and end on Oct 6.
HBL for the Primary 1 to 5 students will last until the end of PSLE on Oct 6.
"In view of the recent rise in COVID-19 community cases, MOE will be implementing additional precautionary measures in primary and Special Education (SPED) schools offering the National Curriculum in the lead up to the start of written papers for the PSLE. This will better protect our younger students who are not yet medically eligible for vaccination," it said.
Primary and SPED schools will remain open for students who require additional support during the period of HBL.
MOE Kindergartens, KCare Services and Student Care Centres will operate normally. Parents who are unable to work from home or secure alternative care arrangements can approach their children’s schools for assistance, said MOE.
To ensure the safe return of students to school, students are strongly encouraged to do an antigen rapid rest swab test at home on the following dates: Either Sep 27 or 28 for Primary 6 students; and either Oct 4 or 5 for Primary 1-5 students.
This will allow for sufficient time to take a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test if necessary, said MOE.
"MOE will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and implement additional measures to keep our school environment safe, where necessary. We urge all students and staff to continue practising good personal hygiene, adhere to safe management measures, and exercise social responsibility," it added.
The measures will protect students who are not yet medically eligible for vaccination and give parents and students “greater peace of mind”, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post.
“Our students are taking their national exams amidst challenging circumstances – let us all do our part to support them and protect our school community,” Mr Chan wrote.
The announcement comes amid a rise in COVID-19 community cases.
Singapore reported 934 new local COVID-19 infections on Friday, comprising 838 community cases and 96 dormitory residents.
The authorities have flagged that Singapore should be prepared to see its daily COVID-19 cases hit 1,000 soon.
On Tuesday, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament that Singapore had seen more than 360 COVID-19 pediatric cases since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 158 were between seven and 12 years old.
In all, children below the age of 12 accounted for 0.6 per cent of all local infection cases in Singapore, said Dr Puthucheary on Tuesday.
None of them developed severe illness requiring oxygen supplementation or ICU care, said Dr Puthucheary.