Education Minister Says Safer For Young People To Stay In School During Covid-19 Situation

With the number of Covid-19 infections worldwide growing every day, more and more countries are implementing drastic measures such as lockdowns and the closure of schools and workplaces.

Singapore’s also experiencing a spike in cases, due to a rise in imported infections.

That’s why many parents are anxious about their children returning to school after the March holidays, with one even making a petition on Change.org to close down schools in Singapore.

Image: Change.org

Maybe these parents have a point; surely it would be safer to keep them at home?

Well, maybe not.

Education Minister Says Safer For Young People To Stay In School During Covid-19 Situation

There’s something many of us forget when we criticise the government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak; we’re not scientists or medical experts.

When the government makes a decision, especially regarding something as serious as a pandemic, you can bet your cousin’s toaster that they will consult medical experts before they decide on a course of action.

This is exactly what Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung said in a post on Facebook, as he explained the decision to keep our little ones in school.

In his post, Ong outlined three reasons why authorities have not implemented school closures.

The young are less affected

The first reason, as Ong says, is science.

Image: Know Your Meme

Ong says that there is sufficient scientific evidence that shows the coronavirus does not affect the young as much as the adults, similar to how the young are comparatively less affected by chickenpox.

Moreover, he says there’s no evidence to show that the young are “vectors or spreaders of the virus”. He says that the reverse is the case; the young get infected by adults at home.

Image: Giphy

And, unlike many people on WhatsApp, he didn’t just pull this information out of his butt. Ong said keeping children in school was the advice of Prof Dale Fisher, Group Director of Medicine at NUHS and Chair of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.

You see, most young Covid-19 patients contract the virus from home or outside of school, such as the confirmed cases from the higher learning institutes.

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So, it’s actually safer for them to spend their day in school with other children who are less susceptible to the virus than adults.

Plus, as Ong says, if schools close, many kids may run around in the community instead of staying at home and mingle with a lot more people, exposing themselves to more risk.

Disruption

The second reason that children are staying in schools is that closures will disrupt families’ lives.

If you have no domestic help and have limited childcare options, who’s going to take care of your child? I mean, have you even seen Home Alone?

Image: BBC

Closing schools will be tough for parents who can’t find help or afford childcare options while they work.


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Ong added that they are “particularly concerned” about parents who are healthcare workers and providers of essential services.

Precautionary measures

The third reason we shouldn’t worry about kids returning to school is that precautionary measures have already been implemented in schools to ensure it is safe for students.


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Staff members and students who have travelled overseas from the start of March holidays have been issued a Leave of Absence or Stay-Home Notice.

Checks on travel history will be taken at the school gates as a further precaution.

Co-Curricular Activities and external activities have also been suspended, which means they will only mingle with other kids in their classes.

While they’re in class, students will be seated further apart to practise safe distancing, and they will be reminded to keep up with personal hygiene.

And if a student exhibits any symptoms of being unwell, such as sore throat and cough, they’ll be sent home or isolated immediately.


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Yes, worrying is in our Singaporean DNA, but there’s really no reason to be anxious here. The necessary measures have been taken and science is on our side.

Have a little faith in the government, guys. They know what they’re doing.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:
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