Singapore—With school and kindergarten scheduled to open on Monday (Mar 23), Education Minister Ong Ye Kung took to Facebook to announce that all school faculty, staff and students who had been abroad during the school holidays and have returned on or after March 14 are required to take a Leave of Absence (LOA) for 14 days.
He added, “This is on top of the Stay Home Notice that the MOH has just announced. The day you arrive will be considered Day 0 of your LOA.”
Mr Ong added that the CCAs, the SYF Arts Presentation, and the National School Games have all been pushed back to a later date.
Before the March school holidays, we were in a stable situation, with few new COVID-19 cases a day, most of which were…
He wrote, “I know many students, parents, and coaches will be disappointed. And many students and parents will be inconvenienced. I hate to have to do this, but it is critical that we protect the system, and keep everyone who has overseas exposure to the virus away from the school population. Then we can possibly return to the calm we enjoyed before the March school holidays. We need to do our best to maintain that.”
Earlier in his post he explained the reason for the measures that were being taken, since after all, school in Singapore was not being suspended.
“Our priority must be to protect the education system and keeping students safe. By protecting the system robustly, it can remain open, and lives need not be disrupted. Otherwise, many parents, including those working in hospitals and providing essential services, will not be able to go to work.”
The Education Minister’s post has become very popular, with many people sharing it.
However, on his wall, many concerned parents flocked to ask him questions, with some even urging the Minister to postpone the opening of classes on Monday.
One woman wrote, “LOA means that they are free to travel all around Singapore during their absence. Why not Stay At Home notice?
Also, how do we ensure that those who did not make their travel declaration truthfully are also kept away from schools? Even for a day trip.”
Another expressed concern because she had seen “on social media that some parents are not declaring their JB day trip to the school.” She asked, “Why is the LOA not monitored by immigration?”
One mum asked if the LOA applied to preschool as well.
Another parent asked a question about what to do if a parent had gone overseas and their children did not, but could be asymptomatic carriers.
One mum expressed horror because her daughter, who was in tuition class, had a classmate who had just returned from Malaysia.
Another mum asked about how social distancing will be practiced in schools.
Concerned parents asked for at least a one-week extension on the school holidays.
Other parents asked for a two-week extension.
Another parent suggested swapping the March holidays for the June holidays.
Some, sounding worried, asked for immediate action to be taken.
While other netizens have tried to be helpful in answering questions, Mr Ong has not responded to the questions on his wall quite yet. -/TISG
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