Many netizens have recently expressed their disdain over the Singaporean Ministry of Education (MOE)’s announcement that schools and kindergartens would re-open on Monday (March 23).
According to straitstimes.com the MOE, together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) on Thursday announced that classes will resume, but strict measures would be implemented. Among these measures are requiring all individuals who have had any international trip over the break from March 14 (students and school personnel alike) to go into isolation for a two-week period, the suspension of co-curricular activities, and implementing the social distancing measure within schools.
Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (March 19), posed a lengthy message on Facebook wherein he addressed the situation. In his post, Mr Ong noted that before the break, the Covid-19 situation in Singapore was stable, and the precautionary measures taken by schools were effective.
Before the March school holidays, we were in a stable situation, with few new COVID-19 cases a day, most of which were…
However, Singapore has recently seen a rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases. “The past week saw rising infections around the world, including in Southeast Asia,” said Mr Ong. He then cited the travel restrictions the Singaporean Government has implemented, which he noted is something that has caused many to rush back home. “Our priority must be to protect the education system and keeping students safe,” he stressed. “By protecting the system robustly, it can remain open, and lives need not be disrupted.”
Given this, after consulting with the Ministerial Task Force as well as health officials, Mr Ong announced the mandatory Leave of Absence (LOA) for those with a recent international travel history. “(W)e have decided to subject all students and school staff who have returned from overseas on or after 14 March 2020 to 14 days Leave of Absence (LOA),” he said. “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.”
“I hate to have to do this,” he explained, “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.”
Some netizens acknowledged the MOE’s decision, calling it “difficult but necessary,” and expressed their gratitude towards the MOE’s decision to implement preventative measures.
However, many expressed their displeasure over the MOE’s decision to resume classes, with a couple citing how other countries have closed down schools in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. While some questioned why the Ministry wouldn’t just implement online learning, others took the Ministry’s decision as a sign of its lack of care. The way netizen Daniel Tan saw it, “Our well-being is secondary…elections are more important.”