[Featured] Not all are back in class but it’s right timing to reopen schools, says Ong Ye Kung

We were featured on TODAYonline on 2nd June 2020!

As part of NTUC My First Skool's COVID-19 safety measures, all centers have been installed with ultraviolet sterilisers to thoroughly sanitise commonly shared items such as toys. This protects the children and staff, assuring and easing the minds of parents.


The model featured in this article is our best seller: TS_S02 Stainless Silver Series.

 
Young children from NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool at 50 Sengkang West Way waiting to be led into class on June 2, 2020.

SINGAPORE — Five-year-old Nyla Haziqah Muhammad Luthfi could not wait to meet her friends from preschool after being away since April 8 when the Government ordered schools to close.


Her mother, Ms Nurhasinah Aslahuddin, a 32-year-old administrative executive, said: “She was so excited, she didn’t even want to have breakfast.”


When the girl arrived at NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool at 50 Sengkang West Way, she was really happy when she saw her friends, her mother added.


Across the island, selected groups of students returned to schools on Tuesday (June 2) after a two-month period of enforced movement restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Students from Pioneer Primary School keeping a safe distance as they head into class. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor

With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases likely to rise as some businesses and activities resume, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Tuesday that it was better to reopen schools now while daily cases are at a single digit, instead of running into a possibility of a prolonged school closure.


Read also: In pictures: Day 1 post-circuit breaker


Parents also told TODAY that they felt it was safe for their children to return to schools with the necessary precautions being taken.

 

SOONER RATHER THAN LATER


Speaking to reporters during his visit to Xingnan Primary School in Jurong West, Mr Ong said the chances are that the number of Covid-19 cases may go up as containment measures are eased.


Read also: Covid-19: Schools to reopen in stages from June 2; graduating students first to be back in the classroom full-time


“So if we are not comfortable opening up (schools) now, when we have zero or very low daily infections, what more later?" he said. 


If schools continue to close and there is a second wave of infections, the “very prolonged” school closure will have “quite a tremendous” impact on the social and emotional development of young children, he added.


Daily classes resumed on Tuesday for graduating cohorts of students in Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5. All other primary and secondary school students will alternate weekly between home-based learning and classes in school.


Read also: Covid-19: School cannot be 'voluntary', not good for morale of students and teachers, says Ong Ye Kung


For preschools, only Kindergarten 1 and 2 (K1 and K2) children are back in school for lessons. Nursery 1 and 2 children are to return from June 8, while children under infant care and in playgroups may return from June 10.

 
Students from St James' Church Kindergarten (Gilstead) wearing face masks and shields as they return to school. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

Mr Ong also said that Singapore could learn some lessons from South Korea, where schools had to close again after reopening due to a second wave of coronavirus infections when movement restrictions there were eased.


Read also: Missing time spent in school, selected students who returned for classes say they’re glad to be back


“It is a good reminder that as we open up, we take it step by step… we are erring on the side of being more careful, learning from the South Koreans.”

 

‘ENCOURAGING’ ATTENDANCE RATE 


Like many students of all ages across the island, Sec 1 student Kliff Cheang from Nan Chiau High School in Sengkang East was simply happy to meet his friends and teachers again.


Read also: ‘Almost entire’ economy could reopen before June 30 if infection rates remain low and stable: Lawrence Wong


The 13-year-old said that he was prepared to put up with the inconvenience of wearing a mask and limit his mingling with friends to contain the spread of Covid-19. 


At Xingnan Primary School, where Pri 4, 5 and 6 students had returned on Tuesday, it was a 96 per cent attendance rate.


Calling it “encouraging” and “very high for a term start”, Mr Ong said that some of those who were absent may have been feeling unwell.


Read also: Graduating students can return to school from May 19 for exam prep in ‘careful and calibrated’ manner: Ong Ye Kung


For My First Skool at 50 Sengkang West Way, 70 per cent of its 130 K1 and K2 children reported to school.