Singapore Government Press Release
Media Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
MITA Building, 140 Hill Street, 2nd Storey, Singapore 179369
Date: 5 April 2003
PHASED REOPENING OF SCHOOLS
The Ministry of Education (MOE), in consultation with the Ministry of Health (MOH), has decided to re-open schools in a phased approach as follows:
In effect, Primary schools will remain closed for 9 more days beyond the current 10-day school closure period, while Secondary schools will close for an additional week, and JCs an additional 2 days.
MOE is using this additional time to manage the education efforts on SARS, including the development of a SARS education module. The module for JC/CI students will be ready by the time they re-open. Modules for secondary and primary schools will be further customised for students in these age groups. Training and guidance will be provided to teachers in parallel with the phased re-opening, to ensure effective delivery of this education module.
MOE will not be extending the school term any further than earlier announced. The current school term for all schools will end on Friday, 6 June 2003. The mid-year school holidays will commence on Saturday, 7 June 2003 for a period of 3 weeks, ending on Sunday, 29 June 2003. Term 3 of school will commence, as originally scheduled, on Monday, 30 June 2003.
The mid-year GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ level Mother Tongue Language examinations will be postponed by a week, from 2 June to 9 June.
To safeguard the well-being of students after schools are re-opened, MOE will be putting in place additional precautions. Together with the national measures taken by MOH, there will be 4 lines of defence against SARS to safeguard our students:
d. 4th Line: Rapid response by MOE and MOH to isolate any cases that may slip through first three lines of defence.
Screening at Home
Schools will provide information to parents on SARS as well as a checklist of daily measures they should take to protect the well-being of their children. In addition, parents will also be required to complete a declaration on the travel history of their children during the school closure.
SARS Education Module
Schools will devote time to educate their students on SARS, public health and personal hygiene during the first day of their respective school re-opening. It will be aimed at enhancing students’ understanding of SARS and what they should do to safeguard themselves and their friends. To do so, MOE, with the assistance of the Health Promotion Board, is developing a health education module for students. The education module will be customised for the different age groups and includes ready-to-use teaching materials, guides and FAQs for teachers’ use.
Screening Measures in School
Teachers in schools will check daily on the general well-being of their students. Students who are unwell will be isolated and their parents will be asked to fetch them from school to see a doctor.
In addition, all school staff and students who have travelled to SARS-affected countries will be required to stay away from school for 10 days after their return. As an added precaution, students who have travelled to all other countries will have their temperature taken at the beginning of each day in school, for 10 days after their return.
Similarly, a daily well-being check will be carried out for vendors and other workers in the school. Notices will be put up to advise visitors who are not feeling well or who have a travel history to affected countries in the past 10 days, not to enter the school.
Schools have used the break during the school closure to thoroughly clean their premises. Such cleaning will be stepped up on school re-opening.
These measures will be effective immediately on school re-opening and applied until further notice.
Rapid Response Procedures
MOE has worked with MOH to develop a set of rapid response procedures for management of new cases of SARS that may arise in schools and post secondary educational institutions (PSEI). If such incidents occur, the affected school or PSEI will immediately close for up to 3 days. The closure will provide time for MOH to conduct contact tracing, so as to ring-fence the school or PSEI from students with contact history with the patient. Students who are home-quarantined as a result will be provided the necessary medical advice and help with their studies. MOE will decide in consultation with MOH and the PSEI (if applicable), whether the school or PSEI can be re-opened after 3 days, or if the closure should be extended. These procedures were applied in the recent closure of Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Measures taken by Post Secondary Educational Institutes (PSEI)
The PSEIs have similar precautions in place. All their students will also take part in a SARS education module over the course of next week, to enhance their knowledge of SARS and what they can do to safeguard the well-being of themselves and their friends and family.
Re-Opening of Pre-schools
MOE will advise the pre-school centres and kindergartens that they may re-open at the same time as Primary Schools on 16 Apr 03.
MOE Customer Service Hotline
MOE’s Customer Service Centre (CSC) hotline will extend its operating hours this weekend for the convenience of the public who may have queries on school re-opening. Members of the public can call CSC at 6872 2220 during the following hours:
Saturday, 5 April 2003 : 8 am to 11 pm
Sunday, 6 April 2003: 9 am to 6 pm
Members of the public may also access the MOE website at http://www.moe.gov.sg for more information.