Singapore MOE Schools Reopen From May 19

Singapore’s MOE schools will reopen from May 19 for small groups of students taking national exams.
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

Local schools in Singapore will start to reopen from May 19 with primary and secondary students returning in small groups for face-to-face lessons. Students taking national exams including Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5, Junior College 2 and Pre-University 3 will return to school first, as well as those who need school facilities for coursework.

Both local and international schools are not due to reopen their campuses until June 1 as part of the government’s extended circuit breaker measures against Covid-19; schools have switched to distance learning programmes during the closures. However, on Saturday (May 2), the government announced new plans to adjust some of the tightened circuit breaker measures.

Graduating students will be allowed back onto local school campuses from May 19, which now marks the last two weeks of the new mid-year break. The mid-year break for MOE schools, which follow a January to December academic year, has been brought forward from May 5 until June 1; there will be a mid-term break from July 20-26, and Term 3 will then end on September 6.

Education minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post:

“We know that these students have been anxious about the preparation for their national exams, and that home-based learning cannot fully substitute face to face coaching and lessons.
“Attendance is up to the students, if they feel they need help. This is something schools have always done during the mid-year school holidays.”

He added:

"We will give priority to students requiring school facilities for coursework and practical sessions, as well as those who need additional support and remediation."

Mr Ong's Facebook post about reopening local schools

How will schools reopen in Singapore?

Mr Ong said that schools will reopen “in a careful and calibrated manner, with ample safe distancing”. Students will be rostered to return at different times throughout the day and week, and they will be taught in small groups or one-to-one with fixed exam-style seating.

All students and staff must wear masks, there will be daily temperature checks, and strict hygiene measures.

When will international schools in Singapore reopen?

The government’s announcement to reopen schools from May affects local schools. International schools are governed by the Committee for Private Education (CPE), and are unlikely to reopen before the end of the circuit breaker period on June 1. Read more

While MOE schools are nearly halfway through their academic year, the majority of international schools in Singapore run from August to June and are approaching the end of their academic year. Many international schools will break up for the long summer break in early June.

All international exams due to be taken in May, including the IB Diploma Programme, AP and A Levels, have been cancelled by their exam body due to global school closures. In MOE schools, however, end of primary and secondary school exams are still due to go ahead from August through to November. 

The government’s Covid-19 taskforce has said that it will review the further reopening of schools in June.

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