COVID-19: No mid-year examinations in light of school closures – Ong Ye Kung

Minister Ong Ye Kung speaking at the multi-ministry taskforce press conference on Friday (3 April). (Photo: Yahoo News Singapore/Dhany Osman)

SINGAPORE — There will be no mid-year examinations for schools this year in light of school closures from next Wednesday (8 April), Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung announced during a COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce press conference on Friday.

This followed the government announcement that all schools and institutes of higher learning (IHLs) will shift to full home-based learning from 8 April to 4 May, while preschool and student care centres will suspend services. Private education institutions should also move to home-based learning, or suspend classes otherwise.

While mid-year examinations were suspended, a decision has not been made on end-of-year tests and examinations.

However, national examinations, such as the mother tongue oral and written examination on 1 and 2 June, will still proceed as they are considered essential. Ong added that the number of students taking these exams were “not huge” and that social distancing measures will still apply.

For universities, which have moved lessons fully online, examinations will be online and converted to take-home assignments instead of examinations that require physical attendance.

Ong also said that 58 students had tested positive for COVID-19 across all pre-schools, schools and IHLs, noting in his breakdown of the cases that no student had been infected from being in school.

Of the five cases in pre-schools, two were infected overseas, and three by family members. Of the five cases in primary, secondary schools and junior colleges, one was infected overseas and four were infected by family members.

In the 48 cases from IHLs, 38 were infected from overseas, five by family members, one from a work attachment, and two from social activities.

Ong said that the government would have closed schools “long ago” if the virus behaved more like influenza and affected children more.

“But COVID-19, because of the way it behaves, it gives us the option of keeping schools open provided there are stringent precautionary measures and that is what we have been doing. So keeping schools open prevented a major disruption to people’s lives...especially children from families which are more vulnerable and don’t have home-based support for education.”

The minister added that keeping schools open prevented a situation where students roamed the community and put themselves at more risk.

To date, Singapore has 1,114 cases of the virus, including 25 who remain in the intensive care unit and five who have died.

Global coronavirus cases surpassed one million early Thursday morning, with more than 51,000 deaths.

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