There are no plans for now to close schools in Singapore in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore's education minister Ong Ye Kung told parents this week.
During a visit to the First Toa Payoh Primary School, Mr Ong said that closing schools would be a “big disruption” to many parents and students. As reported in The Straits Times, Mr Ong said: "We will consider and monitor the situation closely. As of now, I think we should keep schools going, but take extra precautions, as we have already done."
The MOE website says: "Closing school will disrupt many lives. We don’t rule it out when required, but it is a major, major decision.
"One thing to consider is that even if all students stay at home, there is no guarantee against infection. Lots of infections happen at home actually. It is also unrealistic to expect older kids to stay at home. They will go out and inter-mingle."
Local and international primary, secondary and pre-schools stepped up precautions against COVID-19 (Coronavirus) last week after the government raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level to Orange. The Ministry of Education ordered schools to suspend mass gatherings, stagger recess times and hold after-school programmes in smaller groups. It had already imposed a compulsory 14-day leave of absence for all students and staff at local schools returning from Mainland China.
There are no reported cases of COVID-19 at any international school in Singapore. To help safeguard staff and students, schools have introduced temperature screening, sanitising and enhanced cleaning measures. School trips, sporting events, field trips and camps, as well as large events on and off campus, have been cancelled; lunch breaks are being staggered. Most CCA’s are continuing as normal.
There have been nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness worldwide since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China last December; more than 130 people have died. There are 67 confirmed cases of the virus in Singapore to date.