FAQs for COVID-19 Infection in Singapore

Updated on 30 Mar 2020, 09:20

Blended Learning Model

Suspension of Centre-Based Tuition and Enrichment

School Reopening After March Holidays

Precautionary measures in schools

Keeping Schools Running

Leave of Absence (LOA) and Stay Home Notice (SHN)

Institutes of Higher Learning

Government Quarantine Facilities

 


 

Why are schools implementing the blended learning model? Why is it carried out on only one day a week?

Schools had reopened post-March holidays with a very strict regime of precautionary measures, including putting students and teachers on a Leave of Absence (LOA) if they had travelled during the March holidays. This has safeguarded the wellbeing of our students and staff.

In light of the recent spike in imported COVID-19 cases, it is timely to implement the blended learning model to support the national safe distancing measures. To do so, we will start with Home-Based Learning (HBL). From April, students will learn from home one day a week. We are implementing this in a progressive manner to allow teachers, students and parents to be better prepared should the situation call for more days of HBL later on.

It is also an opportunity for all of us, as we cope with this crisis, to do blended learning in a more effective and engaging manner. However, even as we go into HBL, our desire is to still keep our schools open most days of the week. We want to support our students' academic progress and also look after their holistic development, and do our best especially for those who do not have conducive home support.

We are monitoring the developments closely, and are prepared to step up the number of HBL days if necessary.

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I am a working parent who has to stay home to look after my school-going child on Home-Based Learning (HBL) days. Am I required to take leave to do so?

The Government has urged employers to support their employees by providing flexible work arrangements, such as working from home, during these exceptional circumstances. If your work is office-based, do explore this possibility first, or discuss with your employer to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement. MOM will also continue to urge all employers to be more understanding of employees in such situations, especially those who are parents.

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If I am unable to arrange alternative care arrangements for my child, what kind of support can I get from my child's school?

Parents should contact their schools to explore options if they are unable to make alternative care arrangements due to their work in essential services, or if they do not have the necessary digital resources, e.g. computer and internet access, to support their children's Home-Based Learning.

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How will students continue with their learning from home?

Schools will plan and implement a Home-Based Learning (HBL) plan that best suits students' needs and the nature of the subject. For example, schools may inform their students about specific pieces of homework or textbook reading assignments. We encourage students to exercise self-discipline in following the instructions and completing their lessons and assignments.

Schools can also leverage technology to carry out HBL. Teachers may assign students lessons from the Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS). Teachers will be able to monitor the students' learning progress and submission of assignments through SLS. In addition, teachers may use real-time video conferencing platforms to conduct some of their lessons, where feasible.

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Is my child allowed to go out on Home-Based Learning (HBL) days?

Our teachers will remind the students that they should be learning at home. We urge parents and care-givers to be our partners and reinforce this message, so that the students remain safe and minimise any exposure to the coronavirus. Specifically:

  • Remain in their place of residence as much as possible
  • Minimise visitors to the place of residence
  • Minimise time spent in public places and contact with others
  • Monitor their health and temperature
  • Follow their HBL plan closely to continue with their learning

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How can I help facilitate/support my child's learning at home?

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Work out a daily schedule/routine with your child - guide your child in setting goals and scheduling tasks, as part of developing the valuable life skills of time management and self-discipline which your child can acquire when doing Home-Based Learning (HBL). For further tips on guiding your child in setting goals, refer to the Resilience Boosters at https://go.gov.sg/selresforparents.
  • Have an agreement with your child on managing screen time. When it comes to using technology to support HBL, schools will assign a maximum of 2 hours of online learning every day. You can work out an agreement with your child to take short breaks in between online learning, and reduce their recreational screen time, e.g. time spent on video games and social media. They can replace recreational screen time with healthy offline activities, such as reading books or playing board games with family members. For further tips and guides on reinforcing your child's cyber wellness, please refer to: https://ictconnection.moe.edu.sg/cyber-wellness/for-parents
  • Encourage your child to maintain an optimistic and positive outlook while accepting the changes and emotions that he/she has had to face as part of going through HBL.

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My child does not have a device for Home-Based Learning (HBL) at home. What should I do?

HBL involves both online and offline approaches to learning. Therefore, not all HBL will require the use of devices.

If the HBL plan issued by the school requires the use of a computer/device and your child is not equipped with one, please approach your child's school for assistance. All schools are equipped with sufficient devices to loan out to students for online HBL. School can also assist if your child does not have access to the internet at home.

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Will National School Games (NSG) be reinstated after June 2020?

NSG for the Senior, 'B' and 'A' Divisions will not be reinstated after June 2020, because there is insufficient time to complete the season within the school calendar.

We will monitor the developments closely, and assess the possibility of reinstating NSG for 'C' Division and Junior Division after June 2020.

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How will centre-based lessons resume?

Centre-based learning will continue in the Home-Based Learning format until further notice.

However, for graduating students in Secondary 4 and 5, and JC2, the mode of learning will take the form of video-conferencing in their respective schools, or at home, so that 'live' lessons can still be conducted without them having to travel to the centres and mingle across schools. This allows teachers to also maintain the quality of interactions with students.

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Will Special Education (SPED) schools also implement one day of Home-Based Learning (HBL) a week?

Yes. SPED Schools will implement one day of Home-Based Learning a week with most of them conducting HBL on Thursday. HBL is not new to SPED schools. However, as SPED school students will need their caregiver's support for their learning, caregivers will receive a daily check-in from a SPED school personnel (e.g. teacher, Allied Professional) regarding the activities for the day, their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their child.

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Do all Special Education (SPED) schools have Student Care Centres (SCC)?

There are six specialised SCCs in SPED schools which are run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. They will continue to remain open.

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What will happen to Special Education (SPED) students whose parents have no caregiver arrangement? Can they attend school?

Similar to our mainstream schools, SPED schools will be staffed by a small number of teachers and Allied Professionals to provide for students with no caregiver arrangements to be in school on days when Home-Based Learning is being implemented. Parents who are not able to obtain leave or work-from-home arrangements should contact their child's school.

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How would examinations be affected by the blended learning model?

There is no impact on examinations for classes where Home-Based Learning (HBL) takes place once a week. For centre-based classes where face-to-face lessons are suspended, MOE will make alternative arrangements for these students. However, if HBL is scaled up significantly, we will adjust school-based assessments and examinations for the year where necessary.

The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) is working closely with MOE in monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and will review the schedule for the national examinations, including the mid-year GCE Mother Tongue Language examinations.

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Why are centre-based tuition and enrichment suspended? How can my child / children catch up with their learning?

The recent spike in imported cases signals a new phase in our fight against COVID-19. We must quickly and significantly reduce the risks of seeding new local clusters. This is where the need for safe distancing becomes imperative, through measures to minimise movement and exposure as much as possible. The suspension of centre-based tuition and enrichment classes is aimed at avoiding activities where there is a significant intermingling of students from different schools, since this poses an additional risk of the COVID-19 infection spreading to students from multiple schools. Where feasible, such classes may be conducted online.

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What types of classes need to be suspended, given the tighter safe distancing measures announced on 24 Mar 2020?

All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes for young and school-going children (i.e. children up to and including 18 years of age), whether academic or non-academic, will be subject to the suspension.

Centre-based classes may be replaced with online learning.

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Will private tutors who are not based in centres be required to suspend their lessons?

The suspension of centre-based learning is an important measure to further reduce significant intermingling of students from different schools. This is a targeted and systematic way to provide an added level of precaution to limit COVID-19 infections from easily spreading to multiple schools. MOE Centres (e.g. MOE Language Centres) have already suspended their classes as well for the same reasons.

However, like all measures, they are never 100% fool-proof, and neither will they cover every possible scenario effectively. Even a family with 3 children, all attending schools, would be intermingling when they are at home and should take the necessary precautions.

In this regard, we have decided to focus suspension of centre-based learning as this will significantly reduce intermingling. We urge private tutors who conduct lessons outside of centres (e.g. home-based tutors) to take appropriate and sensible measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including observing guidelines on social distancing, segregating students should they be from different schools, and ensuring that those who are on LOA or SHN do not attend. They should also ensure that parents are comfortable with the arrangements.

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I am a private provider offering centre-based services for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or disabilities. Am I covered under the suspension?

Regardless of location (e.g. centre, home or other settings), therapy services provided or directly supervised by registered Allied Health Professionals (AHP), or those offered by early intervention providers registered with the Ministry of Social and Family Development for children/students with SEN, are not covered by the suspension.

However, all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes for children 18 years of age and below, regardless of class size and whether or not the children have SEN, will be subject to the suspension.

Note: Registered Allied Health Professionals delivering/supervising such therapy are defined as professionals registered with the Allied Health Professions Council or registered with the Singapore Psychological Society's Register of Psychologists.

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Can MOE help to facilitate a refund of the fees I have already paid?

As matters pertaining to the payment of fees is a contractual matter and practices vary across different providers, we advise parents, guardians and affected students to work with and seek an amicable resolution directly with the private provider in question.

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How can private providers continue to support enrolled students?

While all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes are to be suspended, providers can continue with classes in the form of online learning.

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Can employees of private providers continue to work, even if centre-based tuition and enrichment classes have been suspended?

Tuition and enrichment centres should put in place measures to reduce close physical interaction amongst employees who continue to work, as outlined by MOH. Tele-conferencing should be used in place of physical meetings wherever possible. Where employees can perform their work by telecommuting from home, employers must ensure that they do so.

We note that some centres already have staff who are telecommuting, as they concurrently prepare to shift their physical classes towards e-learning.

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When can my child go back to school given the following scenarios:
  1. We went to Malaysia and returned on 16 March.
    The new 14-day LOA rule applies, because you returned after 14 March – the first day of March school holidays. Your child's LOA will start from 16 March (Day 0) to 30 March (Day 14). Your child can return to school on 31 March.
  2. We went to New Zealand and returned on 19 March.
    MOH has announced that from 20 March, all travellers returning to Singapore will be issued a Stay Home Notice (SHN). Since you returned on 19 March, the SHN will not apply to you. But MOE is going beyond this for schools by instituting the LOA on those who return on or after 14 March. So, the 14-day LOA will apply to your child. Your child's LOA will be from 19 March (Day 0) to 2 April (Day 14). Your child can return to school on 3 April.
  3. We made a day trip to JB on 13 March. Are we subject to LOA?
    The new 14-day LOA rule by MOE does not apply as you returned before 14 March. Your child can come to school when school re-opens for Term 2 on 23 March.

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Why is MOE going beyond MOH's guidelines? Based on MOH guidelines, SHN for the whole world starts on 20 March 2020 at 2359 hours. I returned earlier. I should not be caught.

We need to go beyond MOH's guidelines, to keep our students safe. We are stepping up precautionary measures so that we can maintain the calm situation that we had in schools before the March holidays, and before students started travelling. We need to keep imported cases out of our school system. If we are successful, we can avoid school closures, which will disrupt the lives of a lot more Singaporeans with children in schools.

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Why can't we continue National School Games (NSG)? My child has been training very hard for the whole year.

We are strong believers in holistic education and are also very disappointed that we are unable to continue with activities such as the NSG. But we need to do this to protect our students and schools. I hope we make the best out of the situation, and use this moment to help our young ones learn how to cope with disappointments, and unexpected twists and turns in life.

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Will schools eventually be closed?

Learning will continue regardless. But, if we need to suspend school as part of a larger national safe distancing effort to dampen the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore, we will move to Home-based Learning or some form of blended learning. We are watching the situation closely and keeping all options open. When a decision is made, we will give parents advance notice.

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What precautionary measures are in place in schools?

MOE is implementing many precautionary measures in our schools, including:

  • Daily temperature checks
  • Staggered recess times
  • Wipe-down routine in classrooms
  • Intensified cleaning routines and environmental hygiene in schools
  • Fixed exam-style seating for primary 3 students and above
  • Fixed group cluster seating for primary 1 and 2 and MOE Kindergarten students
  • Assigned seating and wipe-down routine in canteens
  • Assigned play areas for students to play in reduced group sizes
  • Suspension of Co-curricular Activities
  • Suspension of large group and communal activities such as assemblies, camps and mass celebrations

The National School Games will continue to be suspended until the end of Term 2 and the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation will be cancelled.

Students are also continuously reminded to maintain good personal hygiene.

We review our measures and closely monitor the situation constantly. We will take the necessary precautionary measures as the situation evolves. We all can and should continue to do our part to protect ourselves by adopting good hygiene habits and practising social responsibility by seeking medical attention if we are unwell.

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What precautionary measures are MOE Kindergartens (MK) and KCare putting in place when schools reopen for Term 2 on 23 March 2020?

Preschools will continue with their earlier precautionary measures to safeguard the health and safety of MK and KCare staff and children:

  • Health checks and stepping up of temperature screening for all staff and students (twice a day for kindergartens; three times a day for childcare centres)
  • Restriction of visitors into the preschool. Parents will drop off and pick up their children outside the preschool, with the advice to stand further apart from one another
  • Suspension of excursions and field trips to minimise risk of exposing children to large crowds. Daily outdoor play and learning for the children will continue
  • Suspension of large group and communal activities such as assemblies and mass celebrations:
    • Children will proceed directly to classrooms when they arrive in school, where possible
    • Programmes and activities will be carried out in small groups
    • Children will have their meals in their classrooms or to stagger meal times

For students who have fever and/or exhibit flu-like symptoms during the course of the day, their parents will be contacted to bring them home and to see a doctor.

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Do I need to inform my child's school if my workplace has a confirmed case?

There is no need to inform the school if your workplace has a confirmed case unless it is you or someone in your immediate household who is a confirmed case. In addition, if you or a member of your household have been issued a quarantine order (QO) and your child is in MK/Primary School, you should also keep the school informed. Please continue to adopt good personal hygiene practices, and seek medical assistance immediately if you or your child are unwell.

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I notice some students and staff wearing masks in school, including those who display flu-like symptoms. If they are unwell, why are they not sent home? What are the guidelines for mask usage in school? Can my child wear a mask as an added precautionary measure in class?

Medical experts have said that there is no need to wear a mask if you are well. If you are unwell, you should see a doctor immediately and rest at home if you have been given a medical certificate. Schools have also implemented precautionary measures to safeguard the well-being of our students. Temperature-taking is conducted daily. If a child's temperature is 38 degrees Celsius or higher or have flu-like symptoms (cough, runny nose, shortness of breath), the school will contact the parents to ask that he/she be taken to see a doctor. They should also rest at home until they have recovered.

There is generally no need to wear a mask as an added precautionary measure. Neither do we encourage this in our schools, especially as the child needs to take special precautions when putting on or changing of the mask to avoid accidental touching of the face. However, we understand some feel strongly about this, and we would not disallow if so.

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Why is MOE suspending public use of indoor school facilities?

MOE works with SportSG to make suitable sports facilities in schools, such as school fields and indoor school facilities, available for wider community use outside of school hours.

In light of the COVID-19 situation, MOE has stepped up on precautionary measures to protect students and staff, including efforts to ramp up cleanliness and hygiene in schools. Suspending public sharing of all indoor school facilities temporarily will allow schools the time and space to keep their facilities clean and ready for use by students and staff.

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Why didn’t MOE suspend public use of indoor school facilities earlier (i.e. DORSCON YELLOW), or when DORSCON was raised to ORANGE?

We did not immediately suspend general public sharing of indoor school facilities as these facilities were shared outside of school hours, hence there were no students mingling with the public. With schools intensifying their cleaning routines and environmental hygiene in DORSCON ORANGE, we decided to suspend the public sharing of indoor facilities temporarily, to allow schools the space and time to achieve and maintain a high standard of cleanliness.

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Why are the outdoor sports facilities such as fields still open to public use? Will sharing of these facilities be suspended too if the COVID-19 situation worsens?

We have kept outdoor sports facilities like fields and running tracks open for public use as these facilities have fewer touchpoints and surfaces that require cleaning compared to indoor facilities.

MOE will continue to review the public sharing arrangements for these outdoor facilities as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

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Why didn't MOE consider alternatives, such as partial (i.e. only close on Sundays) instead of fully suspending sharing of indoor school facilities?

Schools are bearing a much heavier daily workload to ensure a higher state of environmental hygiene to keep our students and staff safe. General public access to indoor facilities, even at a reduced frequency or volume, will still necessitate additional thorough cleaning. By suspending general public sharing of indoor facilities in schools, schools can better focus on keeping the school premises clean and ready for use by students.

MOE will continue to review the public sharing arrangements for these facilities as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

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When will the suspension on public use of indoor school facilities be lifted?

MOE will continue to review the public sharing arrangements for these facilities as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

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Why is my child sent home when he does not seem to have a fever? How are schools assessing if a child is unwell? How is MOE aligning these practices across schools?

Schools conduct temperature-taking exercises daily. If a child’s temperature is 38 degrees Celsius or higher, the school will contact the parents to ask that he be taken to see a doctor. Schools also look out for other flu-like symptoms such as cough and runny nose, and will suggest to the student to see a doctor.

There are also times when a child may inform his teacher that he is unwell, even though he may not be running a fever or showing symptoms. In these cases, we hope students and parents can all play their part and practise social responsibility by seeing a doctor first before coming to school. Students should return to school only when they have fully recovered.

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What MOE is doing is 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, socialise with friends, visit places we like, help people in need – over a prolonged period will make life miserable for everyone and disrupt society.

In tackling 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.

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Do MOE’s precautionary measures apply to school vendors?

The precautionary measures schools have implemented to safeguard the well-being of students and staff also apply to school vendors. Temperature taking is conducted daily for vendors, including canteen vendors, cleaners, security guards, KCare and Student Care Centre staff. Individuals who have a temperature of 38oC or higher, or who exhibit flu-like symptoms, will be asked to seek medical assistance immediately. Vendors who operate outside schools, such as school bus vendors and coaches, have also been advised to adopt good personal hygiene practices and seek immediate medical attention should they feel unwell. Vendors are required to inform the school should they or any of their staff go on medical leave/QO/LOA/SHN.

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Would classes be suspended when there is a confirmed case in a school?

A key activity when there is a confirmed case in a school is for us to clean and disinfect the school premises as soon as possible. Classes would hence need to be suspended for a day, to facilitate thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the premises.

If it is assessed that no transmission has taken place in the school, classes and activities should resume once thorough cleaning and disinfection has been completed.

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Why not close schools when DORSCON was changed to Orange?

DORSCON Orange means we need to take more precautions, because there are now a few cases of community spread. In fact, many of the measures schools have taken are already DORSCON Orange measures.

Closing school will disrupt many lives. We don’t rule it out when required, but it is a major, major decision.

One thing to consider is that even if all students stay at home, there is no guarantee against infection. Lots of infections happen at home actually. It is also unrealistic to expect older kids to stay at home. They will go out and inter-mingle.

See this interesting article: https://www.mothership.sg/2020/02/japan-family-virus-experiment/

On the other hand, in schools, we have suspended large gatherings to reduce inter-mingling drastically. There is also a tight regime of personal and group hygiene. Should there be wide community spread, which we hope will not happen, schools can be one of the safest places in Singapore against the COVID-19 virus.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely, in the best interest of our students.

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Can schools be one of the safest place for students?

Staff and students are already on extra alert. We are calling on all our teachers and staff to help make this happen. Hygiene is a major determinant of risk of transmission, so personal and group hygiene standards have been raised. There is constant supervision (for the younger students) and reminders for all students to wash their hands properly and regularly, avoid touching their faces. As a group, students will clean up after use.

In terms of activities, we have scaled down all mass activities, to minimise inter-mingling.

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Can we be assured that there will be no infection in school?

We have posed ourselves this difficult question, which deserves an honest answer. We cannot ensure that there will not be any infection amongst our students or staff if we close all schools as they may contract it from other sources such as their family members. Neither can we guarantee that there will not be any infection by keeping schools open. If there is wide community spread, chances are some students may be infected. We have already seen a few cases of students/staff who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. But we will certainly do our best to make schools one of the safest environments in that scenario.

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Even if schools are safe, how about the journey to and from school?

Our public transport operators will maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene too. But as commuters, we should also play our part. Remind your child to wash his or her hands with soap before the journey, and not to touch their faces. When they are in school, they will be reminded to wash their hands with soap again.

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Why are schools still continuing with PE lessons?

Schools will take appropriate steps for PE lessons to ensure that group sizes are small to limit any risk of transmission. We want schools to continue with as many of their usual learning and activities as possible. They are ready to step up their measures if need be. For students and youths, we must continue to encourage as much physical activities as possible, for both their physical and mental well-being, and we will strive to conduct these activities in as safe a manner as possible.

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I have heard of cases where students did not declare after traveling to areas listed under MOH’s travel advisory. How do we ensure that students declare when they have travelled to these areas?

If you come across cases where the person did not declare his or her travel, do let the school know and they will follow up with checks.

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A member of my household returned from overseas recently but my child remained in Singapore. Should my child be on Leave Of Absence (LOA)? Will my child be allowed to attend school?

Given the recent spike in imported cases in Singapore, we have tightened our LOA measures to protect our younger students. Preschool and primary school students staying in the same household as a person who has returned to Singapore from any country from 25 March 2020, 11.59 pm, and is serving his/her SHN at home, will be placed on 14-day LOA. This is because young children are generally less conscientious about safe distancing and personal hygiene in the house. Day 0 of the students' LOA will be the date on which the person in his/her household returns to Singapore. To illustrate:

  • A member of your household travelled to Sweden and returned to Singapore on 26 March 2020.
    The new 14-day LOA measure applies. Your child's LOA will be from 26 March (Day 0) to 9 April (Day 14). Your child can return to school on 10 April.

As an added safeguard, we have backdated this requirement to cover those who had returned from the UK, US or ASEAN countries on or after Saturday 14 March 2020 (start of the recent March school holidays). Therefore from 25 March 2020, we will also issue LOA to preschool and primary school students staying in the same household as someone who had returned from the UK, US or ASEAN countries on or after 14 March 2020. As with the other category of LOAs, Day 0 of the students' LOA will be the date on which the person in his/her household returns to Singapore. To illustrate:

  • A member of your household travelled to the UK and returned to Singapore on 19 March 2020.
    The new 14-day LOA measure applies, with Day 0 being 19 March, and Day 14 being 2 April. We will issue your child with an LOA starting from 25 March (as that is immediately after the 24 March announcement of this new LOA measure), and it will end on 2 April. Your child can return to school on 3 April.

These measures are in addition to the earlier announced 14-day LOA issued to students and staff of schools and preschools who had travelled overseas and returned on or after 14 March.

We also urge all older students who are staying with persons on LOA or Stay-Home Notice (SHN) to monitor their health, see a doctor if they are sick and return to school only when fully recovered. If the person in your household on SHN/LOA becomes unwell, (i.e. he/she develops a fever or starts to display flu-like symptoms), he/she should seek medical attention as soon as possible. While waiting for the outcome of the medical diagnosis, please inform your child's school about this. Your child should not attend school. He/she can return to school once it has been confirmed that your household member has tested negative for COVID-19.

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My child is a preschool/primary school student. My family member returned from UK/US after 25 March 11.59pm and is currently serving the Stay-Home Notice at a dedicated hotel facility. Does my child have to be placed on LOA?

Your child does not have to be on LOA. Since your family member has been directly transported from the airport to the hotel facility and your child did not have contact with him/her, there is no potential risk of infection from that family member.

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How can schools ensure that those who are on LOA do not attend school during their LOA period?

Students and staff who are on LOA will be informed by their respective schools that they are not to attend school within the specified period. Parents of students will also be alerted to this. Together with the LOA notice, schools will also share an advisory to parents and students detailing what they need to do during the LOA period.

Students are reminded to be socially responsible to help keep the school a safe environment for learning. In addition, teachers will contact students on LOA daily to check on their well-being. Schools are always vigilant, and should those on LOA turn up at their schools, they will be sent home immediately.

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My child has been placed on SHN/LOA for 14 days. I'm worried that Home-based Learning (HBL) and being away for so long would not be able to help my child learn as effectively as he/she can in school. How are schools supporting students on SHN/LOA with their studies?

HBL involves a variety of methods; it need not be confined to e-learning or learning with computers. For school students placed on SHN/LOA, their teachers will be in regular contact with them daily to check on their well-being, as well as ensure they keep up with their school work.

Schools will plan and implement a HBL programme that best suits the lessons and the students.

For example, schools may inform their students about specific pieces of homework or readings from their textbooks. 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 and submission of assignments.

These can be difficult times for all involved – teachers, parents, students affected – but let us also learn to take things in our stride, improve and adjust along the way. Most importantly, let us support those who are affected and learn important lessons of resilience and empathy as we work together to deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19.

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What will happen if a school student /staff does not comply with the Stay-Home Notice (SHN)?

In view of the recent surge in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, it is important that all persons issued with SHN comply strictly with its requirements, in order to limit the risk from potential imported cases and to safeguard our community.

Students found to have breached their SHN will be subject to disciplinary actions from their schools and institutions.

In addition to school sanctions, they may also be prosecuted under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act. Permanent Residents (PRs), Dependent Pass (DP) or Student Pass (STP) holders may also have Re-Entry Permits, DP or STP revoked or shortened.

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If my child is on LOA, as a parent, will I be able to go to work?

There is no need for you to be on LOA if you are in contact with people on LOA. LOA is a precautionary measure which is issued to people who are healthy. You should continue with your normal activities, which includes going to work. In all circumstances, please continue to adopt good personal hygiene practices, and seek medical assistance immediately if you or your child are unwell.

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If a student/staff was in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case or on QO/SHN/LOA, would he or she need to be on LOA as well?

Contact tracing would be conducted to identify close contacts of the confirmed cases to determine if the nature of contact poses risk of virus transmission. If there was a need for the student/staff to be placed on LOA, the school would get in touch with student/staff. If necessary, MOH would get in touch to issue a quarantine order (QO) or to place him or her under phone health surveillance.

However, there is no need for the student/staff to be placed on LOA if they are in contact with people on LOA or SHN, but are not confirmed cases. In all circumstances, please continue to adopt good personal hygiene practices, and seek medical assistance immediately if you or your child are unwell.

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What is Stay Home Notice (SHN)? How does the SHN differ from a Leave of Absence (LOA) and Quarantine Order (QO)?

MOH has introduced SHN as a precautionary measure for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore with travel history within the last 14 days to the following areas:

  • Mainland China (except Hubei), with effect from 18 February 2020 11.59pm;
  • Iran and the Republic of Korea, with effect from 4 March 2020 11.59pm;
  • Italy, France, Spain and Germany, with effect from 15 March 2020 11.59pm;
  • Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, with effect from 16 March 2020 11.59pm.
  • (Latest) All countries, with effect from 20 March 2020 11.59 pm.

In addition, all travellers (Singapore residents, long-term pass holders, foreign employees issued with a work pass and short term visitors) entering Singapore at any of our checkpoints could be subject to a COVID-19 swab test at the checkpoint, even if asymptomatic.

Persons issued with a SHN/QO are on stricter regimes than those on LOA and will be required to remain in their place of residence or quarantine at all times during the 14-day period. QO and SHN are legal orders. Individuals may be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act and may face serious penalties for non-compliance. In comparison, those on LOAs are allowed to leave their homes briefly to purchase daily necessities or attend to important personal matters.

Click on the link for a quick explainer on the difference between LOA, SHN and QO: https://www.facebook.com/6788957003/posts/10159347488002004/?d=n

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Do staff/students on LOA/SHN need to produce certification that they are fit for duty from a doctor at the end of their 14-day LOA/SHN period?

No. Staff and students who have ended the 14-day LOA/SHN period without developing any symptoms do not need any certification from a doctor before resuming their normal activities. Schools also do not require these individuals to produce a doctor's note to allow them to return to the schools at the end of the 14-day period.

In all circumstances, please continue to adopt good personal hygiene practices, and seek medical assistance immediately if you are unwell.

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I understand that primary school and MOE Kindergarten students who are close contacts of Persons Under Quarantine (PUQ) also need to observe a Leave of Absence (LOA). Why is this necessary?

The Home Quarantine Order (HQO) is issued to healthy persons who have recently returned from Hubei, and for those in close contact with a confirmed case. There may be young children living in the same household, and being young, they may be not be so aware of the precautions they need to take to protect themselves when staying with someone on HQO. So we have decided to take the step of issuing LOA to these young children as an additional precautionary measure. This will give their fellow students and parents added assurance.

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What if students or staff who are on LOA do not stay home, and move around in public areas?

There is a difference between an LOA and a Quarantine Order (QO).

A QO is served to healthy individuals who have a higher risk of exposure to the virus, such as someone who has close contact with an infected person. QOs have legal force, with severe penalties for non-compliance. Quarantine usually occurs in the home but can also be served in dedicated Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs) or hospitals, should the individual not have suitable accommodation in Singapore.

An LOA is issued to students and staff who are healthy, as a precautionary measure. Although LOAs are not legally binding, we strongly urge those on LOA to be socially responsible and comply with the LOA, to prevent possible transmission of infections.

The students and staff on LOAs are not required to stay at home and be isolated at all times. However, they should not be attending classes or going for school activities. During the LOA, students and staff are expected to:

  • Remain contactable at all times
  • Remain in the place of residence as much as possible
  • Minimise visitors to the place of residence
  • Minimise time spent in public places and contact with others
  • Monitor their health and their temperature
  • (For Students) Follow their home-based learning plan closely to continue with their learning

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Are vendors, canteen staff, freelance coaches also covered under the LOA measure?

Yes. The LOA provisions cover teaching staff, non-teaching staff, such as administrators, and other non-school staff, including canteen vendors, security guards, KCare and Student Care Centre staff.

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What if students or staff do not declare their travel history?

We urge them to spare a thought for others and do so. Their friends and families, if they know about their travels, should also urge them to do so. All of us play a part in ensuring the safety and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones and our society. We should do the responsible thing and declare our travel history, and see a doctor if unwell.

Ultimately, we can only overcome this virus with the co-operation and public spiritedness of everyone in Singapore.

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The IHLs are suspending their official overseas placements (e.g. internship or exchange programmes). How will the affected students be supported?

Given the rapidly evolving global COVID-19 situation, MOE and the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have decided to suspend all official overseas placements, including all internships and exchange programmes, until end-July. Students who are currently on such overseas placements will be recalled as soon as is practicable.

The decision to suspend overseas placements was reached after careful consideration of the uncertainties ahead, the fact that the students would be able to access similarly meaningful learning opportunities locally (e.g. local internships, credit bearing modules during summer semester), as well as the well-being of our students and their academic progression.

IHLs will work with each affected student to provide alternative learning arrangements so that they can graduate on time, to support them at no additional cost. MOE will continue to monitor the global situation and work closely with the IHLs to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.

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Why do we allow university dorms to be designated as Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs)? Will allowing this put the wider student population at risk?

Currently, there are three university hostels designated as Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs) – designated blocks at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Prince George's Park Residences, Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Graduate Hall 1, and Singapore Management University's (SMU) Blk 83 Prinsep St. They have always been part of the Government's national contingency plan for a disease outbreak. We are getting them ready to be on standby, should the number of people served with QO goes up. The designated hostels will only be primarily activated when a student in our educational institutions or schools is required to serve QOs and does not have suitable accommodation.

Persons served QOs are required to stay in their designated rooms at all times within the allocated quarantine period. They are not allowed to use common facilities within the GQF. There will be no visitors, and food and all necessary supplies will be delivered to them.

There are also security measures in place to ensure compliance to GQF guidelines. All staff working at the GQF are also provided with personal protective equipment, such as masks, as advised by the Ministry of Health (MOH). GQFs also undergo rigorous cleansing and hygiene regimes according to MOH and National Environment Agency (NEA) guidelines. In other words, the persons will not be mingling with the larger population around them.

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