In response to another back to school update, a netizen recently reminded Singapore Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung not to downplay Covid-19. In a serious tone, the netizen cautioned Mr Ong saying that he should do all that is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid getting himself into a similar situation as Singapore’s Manpower Minister Josephine Teo. The Manpower minister has been under public scrutiny for her handling of Covid-19 in the nation’s foreign worker dormitories among other things.
Mr Ong on Friday (May 22) shared on his Facebook page an update on how some schools had begun opening classes for graduating students. After paying a visit to P6s in CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace, he reported that the students were glad to finally be able to socialise after weeks of being home. “Everyone told me they are delighted to be back in school,” wrote Mr Ong. “The main reason? They can see their friends again – with safe distancing of course.”
Schools started bringing graduating students back this week, so I visited CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace to check in on…
Despite the pressing concerns raised by parents, the Ministry for Education (MOE) announced that schools would gradually reopen come June 2 with a new rotation system and heightened safety measures. Since this announcement was made, parents have voiced out their issues with their children returning to school. Among these are the length of time children will have to don a mask and the risk posed by their daily commute to classes. Other parents even asked Mr Ong if their children could stick to Home Based Learning (HBL) so their kids can remain safe at home. In response to this, Mr Ong made it clear that the MOE “cannot make attending school voluntary,” raising several supporting arguments for this decision.
In light of this, Facebook user Oliver Choy recently addressed Mr Ong in a Facebook comment, leaving the Minister with a word of warning in the place of a word of encouragement. “Don’t end up like Josephine Teo,” wrote Mr Choy.
Another netizen said that students should only return to school after the effects of Singapore exiting the Circuit Breaker are seen, drawing a particular analogy highlighting how children should be protected. “We don’t put children along the front lines.”