COVID-19 continues to be a problem across Singapore and the government has announced stricter measures to curb its spread.
For the education sector, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that schools in the country will be suspended for the next month starting April 8. This will affect every level, from primary school to universities, as well as special education schools. Lectures will be done online until at least May 4th.
According to the press release done by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social and Family Development, schools and care centers will also be closed.
However, there will be select schools and care centers that will be open for children who have parents working in key sectors and can’t find anyone to watch over their kids. Children from vulnerable families will also be assisted during this time on top of the financial assistance they are getting here.
The MOE and MSF hope to get classes resumed by May 5 but they will look at the current situation to see if measures should extend them or not. Furthermore, all mid-year exams are cancelled and the national examinations will proceed as planned.
Why is Full Home-Based Learning only applied now?
MOE Minister Ong Ye Kung explains that they are only applying the full home-learning scheme because they wanted to make sure that students and teachers alike are ready for its full implementation.
They loaned out almost 4,000 devices for students who don’t have access to laptops and the internet. However, if you need to purchase a laptop, we have listed companies who provides educational discount here.
Arrangements are also listed down for parents who can’t find caretakers for their children and which schools they can bring their children to.
The MOE used the trial period to see if the current curriculum can be covered through online education and won’t cause problems once the sessions return back to normal.
Schools will be sending students everything they need for their classes through the online classes, including hard-copy resources. Attendances will also be done to ensure that students are doing their classes and teachers will be online to speak to students.
What about those in Institute of Higher Learning?
Online learning is also exercised for university and students from other higher learning institutes across the country. They have also wrapped up several measures like the ones introduced earlier here to ensure that safe distancing is followed in the campuses.
Some universities will also be doing full online tasks, including exams for students. Others deferred credits to help students cope up with their current situation.
For polytechnic and Institutes of Technical Education freshmen, they have to go to the school to get access to their online learning platforms. Students are also advised to read outside their syllabus and the subjects they are interested with.
If your child needs help in their subjects, they should consider opting to engage an online tutor here.
Open Pre-Schools for Parents Working in Essential Sectors
While the MSF hopes that parents try to keep their children at home, they also understand that they may find it hard to keep them there if they have no caretakers to help them.
As a result, they will keep pre-schools open for children of healthcare workers, daily wage or low-wage workers and from vulnerable families. Parents simply have to call the school to get help.
The government will also be waving the attendance requirements for student care subsidies for the month and will continue to be disbursed.
More FAQs on the common questions parents asked
- Will schools still use video conferencing platforms even if they have privacy and security issues?
Schools will continue to use these platforms, specifically Zoom, to ensure that students can still take regular lessons with their classmates.
New guidelines are given out to teachers to ensure that security concerns with these platforms are resolved.
- Can schools use other video conferencing platforms?
Schools can use other video conferencing platforms like Facebook Live for their students if they do not wish to use Zoom.
A checklist for security and safety will be followed similar to the guidelines set for other platforms will be given to both students and teachers.
For parents and tutors who want to use an alternative option than Zoom, check out these resources here.
- Will school fees be waived?
Since lessons will be done online, school fees and other miscellaneous fees will still need to be paid. However, during this period, an offset of around 50% on nett fees will be given to parents.
School fees will not be waived for SPED students and a similar offset will be given for the current month.
- Will I get refunds for school bus fees?
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get a full refund for school bus fees considering the need of school bus operators to support their employees now that they are unable to do their regular operations.
But, the MOE is hoping that operators give their students credits for future fares as a “refund” to students.
If the student is under the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, a 100% subsidy for a month will be given.
The same will also be given to SPED students under a financial assistance scheme through the VWO Transport Subsidy Scheme and the school’s financial assistance.
- Will SPED schools also follow the full home-based learning scheme?
Yes they will even if it is a common practice for these schools. SPED school personnel will be assisting parents and caregivers in ensuring that the student’s educational needs are met.
- Can my children visit school during this period?
No. However, if they are qualified under the limited service arrangement set by the MOE and need computer access, they will be allowed to go to school.
Schools will be coordinating with parents regarding this arrangement.
- What will happen to the exams if the current arrangements are extended further?
The MOE will be looking into ways to adjust the examinations if the extension will happen. They may remove certain parts of the curriculum that were not discussed in the exams and award leeways for grading.
For further detailed report on this matter, refer to our article here.
- Will stay at home notices and leave of absence will still be granted to students during this period?
Yes. These students will be requested to stay at home and not go to school when they are given the notice.
For more FAQs, please refer to MOE’s website here.
It is unclear if the current home-based learning arrangements will be lifted. However, as parents, we must not fear for our child’s education as the government has policies and measures in place to help.
Stay informed by checking out the government’s announcements and speak to your child’s school to learn more about the new arrangements so you can help out.
For more details on how Covid-19 is impacting our education, check out these articles:
What Singapore can Learn from Other Countries in Managing COVID-19 Challenges in Education
Wuhan Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak: Assemblies, Mass Lectures and Orientation Programmes Disrupted