Some people have raised questions for Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing after his recent announcement explaining why Singapore schools will not be returning to full Home-Based Learning (HBL) just yet.
Mr Chan took to Facebook on Friday (Jul 30) to address the different concerns parents have raised regarding whether students should be learning in-person or from home. “Singapore is unlikely to see zero community cases in the short-term, and vaccination for younger children is currently unavailable,” he wrote. “At the same time, we recognise the impact that Full HBL has on all of us.” Mr Chan then cited three key points of impact of the HBL system.
“Full HBL on a prolonged basis comes at a significant cost to our students’ learning, and socio-emotional and mental well-being,” he explained, adding that not all students live in homes where the environment is “conducive” to a learning-from-home set-up.
He then discussed the issue of many parents having to work around such a system, saying “There are many parents who have to scramble to make alternative care arrangements, which may not necessarily be better for their children.”
Furthermore, Mr Chan cited the workload of teachers, explaining “Teachers are juggling the additional demands of preparing and conducting online lessons while taking care of their families.”
He then posed a question to Singaporeans, given the toll Covid-19 has taken on the well-being of people. “We all know that disruption to normalcy can cause fear, stress and despair, which has serious and real consequences in the long term. What then would be the sustainable solution going forward?”
After listing down measures that the MOE is taking to ensure that schools are kept safe, he cited the data, saying, “Over the last 3 months, 129 students and 17 school staff have tested positive for COVID-19. This represents 0.03% of our total student population, from Primary to Pre-University levels.”
Mr Chan assured the public that the Covid-19 situation in schools would continue to be monitored closely.
Though not all disagreed with the resumption of in-person classes, others raised pressing questions for Mr Chan.
While some called for parents to be given an option to stick to HBL, others shared safety concerns based on their own observations. One netizen even asked, “Are you still using percentage and ration to judge a child(‘s) safety?” Another raised the question, “In this case, how (do) statistics matter?”
Still, another netizen issued a warning, citing the rise in unlinked community cases. “It’s just a ticking time bomb with the many unlinked community cases we are currently facing.”
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