Singapore: Pre-schools tighten Covid-19 measures from Sept 27; more pupils, staff to be placed on leave of absence

Many of the cases in pre-schools so far have arisen due to household transmissions. - The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, Sept 25 (The Straits Times/ANN): Regardless of vaccination status, parents of pre-schoolers will not be allowed to enter school premises from next Monday (Sept 27), said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

In a letter addressed to parents and guardians on Friday, the agency announced stricter Covid-19 measures to slow the spread of infections in the community.

Until Oct 24, only visitors required to support the running of pre-schools and those who are needed to perform necessary functions, such as contractors and licensing officers, may enter the premises.

More people will also be placed on leave of absence to ring-fence potential transmission and minimise the formation of large clusters in pre-schools, said ECDA.

It noted that many of the cases in pre-schools so far have arisen due to household transmissions.

These tighter restrictions will now apply to children or staff whose household members aged six and above are experiencing fever or flu-like symptoms, such as cough, runny nose, sore throat and shortness of breath.

The child or staff member will be allowed to return to the pre-school only after the unwell household member tests negative for Covid-19 with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or an antigen rapid test (ART).

Children and staff with household members who test positive with an ART will also be placed on leave of absence. They can return only after the household member has tested negative with a PCR test or an ART.

Those on quarantine orders may return to school only on day 11 from the date of last exposure to a Covid-19 case, provided that they test negative in their exit swab.

They will have to conduct daily ARTs from days 11 to 14. Children who are unable to undergo these daily self-tests can return to pre-school only after day 14.

Those who test positive on an ART, regardless of symptoms, should visit a Swab and Send Home clinic immediately and take a PCR test.

These people will be allowed to return only after receiving a negative PCR test and when they no longer display symptoms.

ECDA said it will automatically waive the minimum attendance requirement for pre-school subsidies in September and October if parents choose to keep their pre-school children at home.

Regular ARTs for staff will begin next Friday (Oct 1) as previously announced. Vaccinated staff will be tested once a week, while unvaccinated staff will be tested twice-weekly.

ECDA's stricter guidelines come following Friday's announcement of stricter measures for the general community by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

These include the extension of home-based learning by a day to Oct 7 for all primary and special education schools for children aged 12 and below. This was originally scheduled for Sept 27 to Oct 6 to better protect younger children, who are not yet medically eligible for vaccination.

While pre-schools, Ministry of Education kindergartens, KCare Services and student care centres will remain open during this period, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home if they can, said ECDA. - The Straits Times/ANN

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