Mask-Off Rollout for Language and Literacy Lessons to Support Students' Learning

Published Date: 24 March 2022 01:00 PM

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In line with the national transition towards COVID-19 resiliency, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) plan to gradually ease mask-wearing requirements in schools, preschools and Early Intervention Centres to better support children's learning and development needs. For a start, MOE and ECDA will progressively offer selected teachers and students the flexibility to remove their masks during language and literacy lessons from Tuesday, 29 March 2022. This is a carefully considered move, taking into consideration the high vaccination coverage among educators and students, and feedback from educators and parents to better support our students' learning needs while mitigating the risk of spread of COVID-19.

Phased Mask-Off Rollout

2. The perception and articulation of speech sounds is an important aspect of early language development. 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.

3. In Phase 1 of implementation from Tuesday 29 March 2022, the following small groups of students and their teachers may remove their masks during appropriate times during language and literacy lessons:

  • Students in MOE Kindergartens, mainstream primary schools and Special Education (SPED) schools who have hearing or speech-related developmental needs (e.g. hearing impairment and speech articulation issues as well as those in School-based Dyslexia Remediation), up to Primary 4 or equivalent; and
  • Students in mainstream primary schools who are in the Learning Support Programme, Mother Tongue Support Programme, and Reading Remediation Programme.

4. The mask-off provision will also be offered to Government-funded Early Intervention centres running the Early Intervention Programme for Children and Infants (EIPIC) from 29 March 2022. EIPIC centres can opt to provide mask-off teaching for children who have hearing or speech related development needs during the conduct of language and literacy lessons.

5. 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. This will cover all pre-schools, as well as national schools, madrasahs, and SPED schools, with more details to be provided later when we have finalized the implementation details.

6. The mask-off rollout is meant for the specific groups in national schools, madrasahs, preschools, Government-funded Early Intervention centres and SPED schools. The SMM requirements for other settings, including tuition and enrichment centres, remain unchanged.

Safe Management Measures for Mask-Off Rollout

7. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, teachers and students must continue adhering to appropriate safe management measures, and practise good personal hygiene, including keeping common areas clean by wiping down surfaces where necessary. Lessons should be conducted in well-ventilated venues, such as non-air-conditioned classrooms with fans switched on and windows opened, where possible.

8. MOE and ECDA will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and adjust our measures to keep our school environment safe where necessary. We strongly encourage all students and staff to continue practising good personal hygiene, adhere to SMMs, and exercise social responsibility.

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