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COVID-19: June school holidays brought forward, GCE Mother Tongue exams rescheduled

COVID-19: June school holidays brought forward, GCE Mother Tongue exams rescheduled

File photo of a classroom. (Photo: AFP/Charly Triballeau)

SINGAPORE: The June school holidays will be brought forward to May 5 in light of the extension of the “circuit breaker” period to Jun 1, announced the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday (Apr 21). 

This will apply to all MOE kindergartens, primary, secondary and pre-university students, including students from special education schools.

“While HBL (home-based learning) has been going well, it has been an intense period of hard work and adjustment for parents, students and teachers,” said the ministry in a press release.  

“An early June holiday will give everyone a respite. It also buys us time for a less restrictive school opening in June.” 

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Lessons will resume on Jun 2, and more details on the format of these lessons - whether they will be physical classes or partial or full home-based learning - will be released at a later date. 

These changes mean that Term 3 will be longer, although a one-week mid-term break will be instituted between Jul 20 and 26. The third school term will end on Sep 6. 

The GCE-Level mid-year Mother Tongue Language written examinations will also be rescheduled from Jun 1 and 2 to Jun 18 and 19, announced the Education Ministry and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB). 

Taking into consideration the mid-term break in July, the listening comprehension examinations for O- and A-Level Mother Tongue Language and Mother Tongue Language B will be rescheduled from Jul 21 and 22 to Jul 27. 

“SEAB will work with schools to put in place precautionary measures to protect the safety and well-being of students and examination personnel,” it said in the media release. 

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Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said in a post on Facebook that home-based learning "hasn't been easy" with a steep learning curve. 

"I thank everyone for your hard work, perseverance, patience and positivity. But it is better not to extend the HBL. HBL is a fall back when schools are suspended; it cannot be a prolonged substitute for school. It is better to let everyone have a break from this intense period," he wrote. 

The additional mid-term break will also reduce curriculum teaching time, said Mr Ong. 

Certain topics commonly taught by all schools at the end of the academic year will not be included in examinations, he added.

“This will reduce the curriculum load and ease the pressure off teachers and students in catching up with the curriculum. Just to be clear, as far as possible, these topics will still be taught. But they will not appear as questions in the national examinations.” 

For graduating cohorts who need support preparing for national examinations, schools may have students come back to school for face-to-face coaching “when the national situation improves”. 

Schools will also remain open for children of essential workers and vulnerable students, Mr Ong added. 

Between May 5 and Jun 1, polytechnic students will continue with full home-based learning, said the Education Ministry. Students from the Institute of Technical Education will continue with full home-based learning until May 8, and will be on vacation between May 9 and Jun 1.

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In tandem with the extension of circuit breaker measures, pre-schools, student care centres and early intervention centres will also extend their suspension of general services until Jun 1, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Early Childhood Development Agency.

Childcare centres will continue to remain open to provide only limited services to children whose parents are in essential services, such as healthcare.

"All student care centres, including special student care centres, will continue to suspend services. Early intervention centres will continue to support their children remotely, and provide in-person intervention only for selected children with higher needs," the agencies said.

Home-based learning resources by the various pre-schools will continue to be available, they said, adding that parents may also access resources put together by MOE and several anchor operators.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday said Singapore will extend its COVID-19 circuit breaker period by four weeks to Jun 1. 

In a televised address to the nation, Mr Lee said Singapore will also implement tighter measures such as closing more workplaces and imposing entry restrictions on “hotspots” such as popular wet markets.

Mr Lee also stressed that Singapore should go out only for essential needs, like buying food or necessities.

On how Singapore can exit from the circuit breaker, Mr Lee stressed that the country needs to take things one step at a time - first by opening up incrementally, in small steps, to make sure that people are safe.

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Source: CNA/zl(cy)


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