Students with hearing or speech-related developmental needs can remove masks during some lessons
SINGAPORE: Some students with hearing or speech-related developmental needs can remove their masks during language and literacy lessons from Tuesday (Mar 29) as Singapore moves to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
For a start, these students with developmental needs include those in Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens, mainstream primary schools and special education schools up to Primary 4 or equivalent.
The relaxed rules also apply to mainstream primary school students who are in the learning support programme, mother tongue support programme and reading remediation programme, said MOE and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
They added that government-funded early intervention centres running the Early Intervention Programme for Children and Infants (EIPIC) can also opt to provide mask-off teaching for children who have hearing or speech-related development needs during language and literacy lessons.
“The perception and articulation of speech sounds is an important aspect of early language development,” said MOE and ECDA.
"The mask-off option will allow students who require more support in their acquisition and development of languages to benefit from a multisensory pedagogical approach with visual and auditory cues."
This comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the easing of several safe management measures, including increasing group size limits and making it optional for people to wear masks outdoors.
MOE and ECDA said the easing of the mask-wearing restrictions is a “carefully considered move”, taking into account the high vaccination coverage among educators and students, as well as feedback from parents to better support students’ learning needs.
“We intend to expand the mask-off implementation in the second phase to allow all teachers teaching language and literacy for young children up to Primary 1 and 2 levels,” MOE and ECDA said.
This will cover all pre-schools, as well as national schools, madrasahs and special education schools, they said, adding that more details will be provided later.
Safe management measures in other settings, including tuition and enrichment centres, remain unchanged, said the authorities.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, teachers and students must continue to adhere to appropriate safe management measures and practise good personal hygiene, including keeping common areas clean by wiping down surfaces where necessary, MOE and ECDA said.
They added that lessons should be conducted in well-ventilated venues, such as non-air-conditioned classrooms with fans switched on and windows opened, where possible.
“MOE and ECDA will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and adjust our measures to keep our school environment safe where necessary,” they said.