Full home-based learning for students in primary, secondary schools, JCs from Wednesday

SINGAPORE — All primary, secondary, junior college (JC) and Millennia Institute (MI) students including those from the Special Education schools will shift to full Home-Based Learning (HBL) from Wednesday (19 May) until the end of the term on 28 May, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday (16 May), amid a recent spike in the number of community cases in Singapore.

"Now we understand this move may cause anxiety in some parents. We want to assure all parents and students that (the Ministry of Education) will continue to extend our help and our fullest support to the schools, the teachers and the parents who require additional help to make the adjustments," said Chan, who was speaking at a virtual media conference by the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health announced 38 local COVID-19 cases among 49 new cases on Sunday, of which 18 are unlinked.

Chan's announcement comes two days after the authorities announced more restricted COVID-19 safe management measures under Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which take effect from Sunday to 13 June.

Preschools and student care centres will remain open to support parents who need to work.

A recent spate of COVID-19 cases have been linked to students, including those from Yio Chu Kang Primary School, Kong Hwa School and St Stephen’s.

Mid-year GCE O- and A-Level Mother Tongue Language examinations will proceed as planned, with safe management measures in place.

Schools will remain open for students who require additional support, such as for parents who work in essential services.

As work-from-home will be the default mode at workplaces, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.

During the June holidays, schools will allow graduating cohorts to come back in small groups where necessary.

Schools will continue to provide instruction and support for students to access their learning material during the full HBL phase, and will assist students who may require digital devices or internet access.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) platform will continue to be accessible to students during this period while teachers will be in regular contact with students and parents.

Institutes of Higher Learning will also be reducing attendance on campus and converting more classes to online learning where possible, except for essential in-person sessions such as laboratories, practicals and final year projects. These will continue with necessary safe management measures in place and hold until end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), or further notice.

The MOE also advised that all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes move activities online till the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in order to reduce the intermingling of students.

Looking ahead

During the press conference, Chan also touched on the need to be prepared for the possibility of the COVID-19 virus becoming "endemic in society".

"We must find new ways to cope with this. We must find new ways to allow our students to continue learning in a safe environment, and converting all schools to a home-based (learning) option may not be a sustainable solution," he said.

Noting that there are limitations to long-term HBL, Chan said the physical interactions between students and their teachers are an "essential part" of transmitting values and creating role models.

"Going forward, we must make sure that we expand...the suite of tools that we have in managing such cases. And we're happy that with greater vaccination, with more rapid testing, we will be able to try to limit the impact (of infections) to as small as possible by using targeted measures on those schools or students that are affected," he added.

Additional reporting by Wan Ting Koh

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