COVID-19: MOE to bring forward June holidays to 5 May, re-schedule affected exams

·Editorial team
·6-min read
Students undergo temperature checks at the gate before entering school on 24 March, 2020 in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Students undergo temperature checks at the gate before entering school on 24 March, 2020 in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Tuesday (21 April) that it will bring forward the June holidays to 5 May as well as re-schedule affected examinations.

The announcement comes just hours after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the circuit breaker period will be extended by four weeks to 1 June.

With the June holidays beginning on 5 May, lessons will resume on 2 June, said the ministry.

“While HBL (home-based learning) has been going well, it has been an intense period of hard work and adjustment for parents, students, and teachers,” the MOE noted.

“An early June holiday will give everyone a respite. It also buys us time for a less restrictive school opening in June.”

On extending HBL as an alternative, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung noted in a Facebook post on Tuesday that it “is a fall back when schools are suspended” and that “it cannot be a prolonged substitute for school”.

“By 1 June, hopefully the situation will be much better, and we can look forward to a safe and orderly opening of schools,” he added.

The MOE said that more details will be released at a later date on the format of the lessons when they resume, be it physical classes, partial HBL or full HBL.

“This means that Term 3 will now be longer, but we will institute a one-week mid-term break from 20 to 26 July,” it said.

These adjustments will apply to all MOE kindergartens, primary, secondary and pre-university students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools.

The ministry said institutes of higher learning will abide by these measures from 5 May to 1 June:

• Students from polytechnics will continue with full HBL.

• Students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will continue with full HBL until 8 May. They will be on vacation from 9 May to 1 June, brought forward from mid-June.

• Students from the Singapore Institute of Technology and some students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design will be starting their school term on 18 May in full HBL.

• The other autonomous universities will be having their holidays. Those offering a summer term will conduct all classes online.

Separately, parents working in essential services like healthcare and who are also unable to secure alternative care arrangements, may continue to approach their children’s primary school, MOE kindergarten or SPED school for assistance during the school holidays, said the ministry.

“These support services have been ongoing throughout the HBL period, and will continue to be offered. Private education institutions should either continue with their HBL arrangements, or suspend classes otherwise,” it added.

In view of the changes to the academic calendar, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) will also reschedule affected mid-year mother tongue language (MTL) examinations, said the MOE.

About 20,600 students across all schools have registered for the O- and A-level MTL mid-year examinations.

“The SEAB will work with schools to put in place precautionary measures to protect the safety and well-being of students and examination personnel,” added the ministry.


The Common Last Topics (CLT) will also be removed from the national examinations this year, said the MOE.

“Term 3 will comprise seven weeks, one week break and then six weeks. Most teachers will use the break to review or re-plan their lessons. The additional break of one week will reduce curriculum teaching time,” explained Ong.

“As it is, the pace of HBL tends to be slower than classroom teaching. We will therefore also make certain topics commonly taught by all schools at the end of the academic year be non-examinable,” he added.

“This will reduce the curriculum load and ease the pressure off teachers and students in catching up with the curriculum.”

The CLT is a set of topics from a syllabus identified by the MOE that would be taught last by all schools towards the end of the academic year.

Examples of such topics to be removed include “Interactions within the Environment” for PSLE Science, Vectors for O-level Mathematics and “Introduction to the Chemistry of Transition Elements” for A-level H2 Chemistry.

“The CLT provides the MOE and the SEAB with the flexibility of reducing the scope covered in national examinations should an unforeseen situation occur that does not allow schools to complete their teaching for the graduating cohorts,” said the ministry.

“The CLT will still be taught, but not be examinable.”

For skill-based subjects such as English language and MTL, it will not be meaningful and practical to identify the CLTs, added the MOE.

“In such instances, SEAB will take the disruption to curriculum time into consideration during marking and grading to ensure that all students are fairly assessed,” said the ministry.

“Even with the adjustments to national examinations, MOE recognises that students in graduating cohorts will continue to face some anxiety. We will look to phase in more consultations for these students, and explore more face-to-face lessons, when the national situation improves.”

Similar measures will also be adopted at the school level to help non-graduating students cope with the reduced curriculum time and the demand of the year-end school-based examinations.

The MOE said it will provide further guidance to schools in due course on how such adjustments can be made.

“The MOE will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and provide the necessary support to our schools, educators, and students. Parents are strongly encouraged to keep their children at home during this period,” the ministry said.

“It has been a topsy-turvy few months as the health situation has been very fluid and uncertain. I thank everyone for your hard work and co-operation. We shall overcome the virus,” said Ong.

Earlier Tuesday, Singapore confirmed 1,111 new cases of the COVID-19 virus, bringing the total to 9,125 – the highest recorded in South-East Asia. A majority of the new cases are linked to foreign workers living in dormitories, while 20 are Singaporeans and permanent residents.

The numbers come a day after the Ministry of Health confirmed a single-day high of 1,426 new cases.

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