Singapore minister resists calls to move schools online again

SINGAPORE, July 31 (Bloomberg): Singapore schools remain safe places for learning and have measures in place to minimize the transmission risks of Covid-19, according to Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

The government would continue to adopt a targeted approach to deal with Covid-19 infections within schools and continue to monitor the situation closely and make adjustments as needed, Chan said Friday in a Facebook post.

He addressed why the country shouldn’t shift schools back online despite calls from some parents to do so, given the country is unlikely to see zero local cases in the short-term and vaccination for younger children being currently unavailable.

"Full HBL on a prolonged basis comes at a significant cost to our students’ learning, and socio-emotional and mental well-being,” Chan said, referring to home-based learning.

"We all know that disruption to normalcy can cause fear, stress and despair, which has serious and real consequences in the long term.”

Chan pointed out that over the last three months, 129 students and 17 school staff have tested positive for Covid-19, accounting for 0.03% of the total student population.

In May, Singapore briefly stopped most in-person school classes following a spike in unlinked coronavirus cases. At the time, all primary, secondary, junior college and some pre-university students shifted to full home-based learning.

Daily virus cases in the country have stayed above 100 since July 19, after an outbreak in the fishery port. This prompted government officials to reimpose tighter Covid-19 restrictions this month to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed. - Bloomberg

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