Wuhan coronavirus: MOE implements leave for students, staff returning from mainland China

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) will be implementing 14-day leaves of absence for students and staff who are returning from mainland China, in a move announced on Monday (27 January) to help arrest the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

This will apply to all MOE kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, special education schools, Millennia Institute, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Students and staff of polytechnics and ITE returning from mainland China on 14 January or later, as well as those from schools returning on 15 January or later, will have to take the leave of absence.

“In the next few days, we are entering a sensitive period, and we want to manage this risk as students start coming back,” said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung during a media conference by the multi-ministry taskforce.

Five students/staff went to Hubei in past 14 days

He revealed that, in the past 14 days, a total of five students and staff in Singapore education institutions have gone to the Hubei province, where the virus outbreak is the most serious. A total of 892 students and staff have gone to other parts of China during the same period.

“We expect the numbers to go up as travel declarations are still coming in... but in a fairly manageable number,” Ong said.

Students on the leaves of absence will be supported via a home-based learning plan, enabling them to continue with their education.

“For students who are on leaves of absence, this is not an extended holiday,” Ong said. “All our syllabus is now online… teachers will make the effort to reach out to them, so they can catch up on lessons at home.”

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung during the multi-ministry taskforce media conference on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung during the multi-ministry taskforce media conference on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)

Daily temperature-taking exercises from Wednesday

Schools will also start taking daily temperature-taking exercises from Wednesday, when school reopens after the Chinese New Year holidays, and will monitor students and staff of any flu-like symptoms.

MOE had earlier instituted a range of measures including issuance of advisories to remind students and staff to practise good hygiene habits and how to stay safe during the Wuhan virus outbreak period.

Measures include declaring their travel history, and advising those who have travelled to China to take their temperatures regularly for 14 days upon their return.

With reporting by Dhany Osman.

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