School Closures in Singapore: What's New, Wk 1

In the first week of school closures in Singapore, Zoom was suspended, a virtual school campus was launched, and an international school opened applications for a new hardship scholarship.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

Schools have been closed for a week across Singapore – but plenty has been happening off campus as local and international schools adjust to distance learning programmes. The Ministry of Education (MOE) temporarily suspended the use of all video conferencing platforms, Invictus International School launched a virtual school, and GIIS SMART is now offering a four-year hardship scholarship.

Read on to find out more…

Suspension of Zoom is lifted

During the first week of full home-based learning, the Ministry of Education (MOE) temporarily suspended the use of all video conferencing platforms after two incidents of security breaches in lessons conducted via Zoom. Schools have now resumed the use of Zoom and other platforms with additional security measures in place.

The MOE says: “Teachers have been provided with a checklist and a step-by-step guide on putting the necessary security settings and protocols in place before they use these platforms (e.g. verifying the identity of students before admitting them into the lesson).

"This will ensure consistent application of secured use of video conferencing across all schools and will also guide and support teachers in using these tools effectively.”

Zoom and Google Meet, which are two of the most commonly used platforms in schools, have released new versions this week with enhanced security features. For example, Google Meet now requires users to log in before being allowed to participate in classes, and Zoom has consolidated its security settings under a security button that makes it easier for users to access the settings.

GIIS offers Covid-19 scholarships

GIIS Singapore is offering a discounted education at its SMART campus. The school has launched a Resilience 2020 Scholarship to offer financial assistance to expat families who are affected by the present situation.

The four-year scholarship (April 2020 to March 2024) offers subsidies of 25-25% for Grades 1 to 12, saving parents between $5,500 to $8,000 a year. Eligible students must be studying in any school in Singapore for at least one year and hold a Singapore Dependent Pass/Student Pass/Permanent Resident; applications for the scholarship close on May 5, 2020.

Invictus launches a virtual school 

Invictus International School has founded a virtual school for Grades 1-6 (Years 2-7). Invictus Family is the latest addition to the group of low-cost primary and secondary campuses in Singapore, Hong Kong and Cambodia. It is described as “a virtual classroom that allows students to learn online as if they are in a real classroom environment”.

Teaching, which follows the UK curriculum and Singaporean maths (and includes Chinese), will take place in a live, interactive classroom delivered through Zoom. Due to the virtual nature of this school, enrolment is open to students from anywhere in the world.

Annual fees at Invictus Family are USD 4,000 per year ($5,600) and there’s a one-time USD 1,000 enrolment fee. By comparison, fees at Invictus' Dempsey campus in Singapore at $17,000 per year. The principal for the virtual school is Nicholas Duggan, who will also be the head at Invictus’ new Centrium campus opening this August in Singapore.

ISS student art challenge

ISS International School has launched has a community art challenge for all students in Singapore. The Singapore Young People’s Art Challenge is open to all students aged four to 18 years, who are currently enrolled in a local or international School in Singapore.

ISS says it has launched the challenge to “encourage students to get creative, stay motivated and stimulated while being at home, keeping their spirits high and also showing our support to the local community with the selected theme.” The school is asking students to upload artwork to Instagram (tagging #SGArtChallenge and @isssingapore) to win prizes – and ISS is donating $1 per entry to The Food Bank charity for the first 1,000 entries submitted.

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