Will Singapore’s Ministry of education(MOE) suspend “2019 Novel Coronavirus”?
Because of the sudden outbreak of the new coronavirus, many parents are worried that their children are still in school in Singapore. Will it be safe?
Some parents also launched a petition at change.org, hoping that Singapore MOE could provide 14 days online course. As the incubation period of coronavirus is 14 days and many students have just come back from Chinese New Year holiday.
Source: MOE official website https://www.moe.gov.sg/faqs-wuhan-coronavirus-infection#q11
The MOE also responded to parents’ doubts:
- How to review the preventive measures taken by the school?
- Can schools provide hand sanitizers?
- How can school be fool proof?
- Will tuitions and enrichment centres take same measures as the MOE?
- Should swimming class be cancelled?
- Why not postpone school starts as Hong Kong?
- How to make sure that everyone will declare when they come back from aboard?
- If there are relatives coming from China, do students or employees need compulsory holidays (Leaves Of Absence, LOA)?
- How does the school provide learning support for LOA students during compulsory holidays?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergence of international concern over the novel coronavirus (nCoV). Should we review the precautionary measures that are place in our schools?
We review measures and closely monitor the situation constantly. We ill take the necessary precautionary measures as the situation evolves. But we all can and should continue to do our part to protect ourselves by adopting good hygiene habits and practicing social responsibility by seeking medical attention if we are unwell.
Can schools provide hand sanitizers in all classrooms?
Personal hygiene is indeed important. But hand sanitizer is not necessary if we wash our hands thoroughly and regularly with soap. Some individuals may also be sensitive to sanitizers. Toilets in our schools and IHLs are well stocked with liquid soap. We will also be stepping up the cleaning of toilets to ensure they are clean.
What MOE is doing not fool proof. What more can we do to protect our students?
No measure is 100% fool proof or guaranteed, but we will take the necessary precautions to contain and manage the risks, while enabling life to go on.
There are two key threats we face in such an outbreak situation.
First is the virus itself. We have various measures based on medical evidence that are targeted at limiting its spread.
Second which is more insidious, is fear. It prevents us from doing the things we love to do and have to do. We must remember that to be deprived of our daily lives and activities – to study, learn, play, socialize with friends, visit places we like, help people in need – over a prolonged period will make life miserable for everyone and disrupt society.
In tacking fear, we must as a society be resilient. We should not let fear of the virus get the better of us and prevent us from going about our daily lives. We should stay vigilant and calm, cooperate as a society, do our part and be socially responsible. Some of the most effective measures are in our own hands – wash them regularly with soap and water, and keep them away from our faces so that we reduce the risk of infection to ourselves and our loved ones, help to contain the threat, while allowing life to go on as normally as possible.
- Do the precautionary measures by the MOE also apply to tuition and enrichment centres?
- Tuition and enrichment centres are private entities. Nevertheless, we strongly urge them to exercise the same responsibility and take reference from the measures MOE has instituted.
- Should swimming class be cancelled? Can a new coronavirus (COVID-19) be transmitted through water, such as through a swimming pool?
- The school swimming class will continue as scheduled. Our swimming pool is safe, and there is no evidence that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) may be transmitted through the swimming pool water.
- Why not delay the opening of schools for 7 or 14 days, like what Hong Kong did?
- We had considered this, took advice from medical experts, and concluded that it is not necessary to do so, because there is currently of widespread sustained community transmission.
Ours is a different situation compared to Hong Kong’s. Hong Kong is closer to the epicenter of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and is closely connected to Mainland China. The number of students and staff returning from Mainland China are likely to be many times ours.
We assessed that the number of students and staff returning from China recently is manageable, and a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) will be more targeted, while allowing schools to open and life carry on as normal as possible, which is an important aspect to safeguard in an emergency situation.
- I heard of cases where students travelled to China and did not declare. How de we ensure that everyone dose the responsible thing?
- If you come across cases where the person didn’t declare his or her travel to China, do let the school know and they will follow up with checks. We had received some feedback on such persons, but upon further checks, we found that they had returned from China in Dec 2019. This is well over the incubation period, so the Leave of Absence (LOA) will not apply to them.
Since we announced the LOA measure, we have received more travel declarations as people return from the Chinese New Year public holiday. As of 29 Jan 2020, we have about 960 students and staff on LOA.
- How about the students and staff who did not come back from China recently, but had relatives from China visiting thm?
- As explained earlier, the LOA is a precautionary measure. Like all precautionary measures, we have to decide how wide to cast the net. If we include those who have visitors from Mainland China, the same logic should apply to those whose friends or families have recently been to China. The net can grow exponentially wide. So we decided to apply the LOA directly to those who have visited China. Those who have close contact with people on LOA should closely monitor their health and adopt good hygiene practices. Those who feel unwell should seek medical assistance.
- How are schools supporting students on LOA with their studies?
- It involves a variety of methods; it need not be confined to e-learning or learning with computers. Schools will plan and implement a home based learning programme that best suits the lessons and the needs of their students.
For example, schools may inform their students on specific pieces of homework or readings from their textbooks. Sometimes, for subjects like Art, hard copy packages may be dropped off at the student’s home by school. Schools may also ask students to go through online materials in the Singapore Student Learning Space or the Learning Management Systems. Teachers will also be able to monitor the students’ learning progress through these systems.
The above Q&A information is from MOE official website of Ministry of Education of Singapore.