Precautions very necessary in schools: Lawrence Wong
Lawrence Wong says safe management measures still necessary following recent RGS students' cases
The two students who tested positive for Covid-19 recently are a timely reminder that precautions are still very much necessary, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday, on the first day of the school year.
He said clusters could have easily emerged had the cases been uncovered during the school term, cautioning that safe distancing must still be observed even in phase three of Singapore's reopening.
"Even in phase three, we maintain all the necessary safe management measures throughout our schools," added Mr Wong, citing health screening at the gates and the examination-style seating arrangements in classrooms.
Two students from Raffles Girls' School (RGS) had earlier tested positive for the coronavirus. The first was a family member of an earlier Covid-19 case, a permanent resident who works as a marine surveyor.
The second student had visited the first teen at her home for a few hours on a day that the marine surveyor was present.
Mr Wong was speaking during a visit to Waterway Primary School, where The Straits Times observed the safe management measures in place.
Only Primary 1 pupils began classes yesterday. Kindergarten 1 (K1) children from the Ministry of Education kindergartens also attended school yesterday.
Kindergarten 2 and Primary 2 to Primary 6 children got an extra day of holiday and stayed at home. They start school today.
Special education and secondary schools also reopened yesterday, while junior colleges and Millennia Institute will do so next Monday.
At Waterway Primary in Punggol, pupils and accompanying parents had to have their temperatures taken before entering the school, with multiple screening stations set up to prevent congestion. Only one parent was allowed per child.
Mr Wong said the aim is to "ensure that we can keep schools open and safe, and that we can keep learning going throughout the school year".
"We have already seen a lot of disruptions in school life in many countries last year and, even now, continuing in many places where schools remain closed.
"We do not want that to happen in Singapore, and we are determined to make sure our students can continue to learn and enjoy learning in our schools in a safe and sustainable manner."
Parent Aryany Abdul Manab, 36, said it was good that teachers focused on the younger children on the first day of school.
"It's to get them accustomed to a different routine - where to go, what to do... I think it is a good initiative," said the private pre-school principal, who was with her seven-year-old son.