Though we have slowly stepped out of the Circuit Breaker period and are even in Phase 2 right now, the Government is continually ensuring that more and more people in Singapore get tested for COVID-19 earlier. This is all in the good intentions of containing potential community spreads! Hence, since the 2nd of June 2020, surveillance testing for COVID-19 has been meted out for all school staff and children studying in schools (above the age of 12) who have contracted acute respiratory infections (ARI) in their primary doctor visits. Instead of the usual COVID-19 testing to only take place after a prolonged period of symptoms, swabbing will be done earlier but with the exception for those below 12 years old. This is in good consideration of the discomfort young children might experience when swabbing, hence they will only have to do so if they persistently display respiratory symptoms.
Because of the increased surveillance testing, the Ministry of Health (MOH) managed to sieve out 4 COVID-19 positive students and 1 staff. While 5 might seem like a huge number of infections in school, these 5 cases all had low viral loads. This means that when repeat tests were done, new samples all showed these students and staff tested negative. In that case, it can be deduced that they were all likely to have been infected during the Circuit Breaker period and not after schools have re-opened!
Don’t worry though, all schools in Singapore are diligently placing precautionary measures to maintain the safety of both students and staff, and mitigating possible loopholes for transmissions. Good examples would be the spaced seating in classrooms and canteens, the wearing of masks at all times and the minimisation of intermingling across classes and levels through staggered break times. Not only that, schools are thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected in the entire vicinity after confirmation of any COVID-19 positive students or staff in their school.
Furthermore, contract tracing and intensive investigations are carried out after every known positive COVID-19 student or staff. This follows through with immediate issuance of 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) by MOE or Home Quarantine Order (HQO) by MOH wherever necessary. In fact, 29 staff and 100 students have already been issued notices for further action and more will be given notices wherever necessary. This thoroughly aims to prevent a further community spread altogether, so if you’re one of them with a notice, do cooperate alright!
Apart from isolation measures, students have been attending school on a bi-weekly basis, where one week they will attend classes in school and the following week they will have Home-Based Learning (HBL). This effectively reduced the number of students in school at once!
While MOE has tactfully implemented a very comprehensive list of safety measures during COVID-19 and successfully brought students back to school compounds, we should continually be socially responsible in this difficult time. If in any situation, any family member or student himself is feeling unwell, please do NOT go to school. While you might think that your child is sick but still needs to attend school to learn things and keep up, please think about the bigger picture here. If another child was sick and insisted on going to school, would you support it?
On the other hand, parents and students are also advised to stay calm during this COVID-19 period. There is definitely going to be more cases reported during this period with more intensive and early COVID-19 screenings, so the best we could as netizens is to calm down and not create unnecessary negative content to bring down the already good efforts put in by MOE and the government!
In essence, schools ARE STILL safe to go to, and your children are in good hands. Similar to FamilyTutor’s motto of ensuring every Singaporean son and daughter are in good hands, MOE is putting in continued efforts in ensuring the safety of each student during this COVID-19 season!
Through this article, FamilyTutor, a tuition agency in Singapore hopes that all of you are taking care of yourselves at home as well as before going to school.
For your information, the ‘Current Affairs’ series covers the latest news and developments in the realm of education, added with a dash of discussion and a sprinkle of opinion!
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