Parents all over Singapore are tired of scratching their heads.
Whenever a host of new measures are introduced to stop the spread of the coronavirus, parents always ask the same question; why aren’t schools closed yet?
And parents had the same question after the suspension of all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes was announced earlier this week as part of stricter social distancing measures.
So, why are schools still open? Well, there are a few reasons, as our education minister explains.
Education Minister Explains Why Tuition Centres Are Closed While Schools Remain Open
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung took to Facebook to explain the government’s decision to keep schools open even after suspending centre-based tuition and enrichment classes.
According to Ong, the suspension of tuition and enrichment classes was not based on the number of students nor the type of activity conducted.
“Our focus is on the risk of spreading the virus, while maintaining daily life as much as possible”, he said.
He added that entertainment venues and tuition and enrichment classes were closed because they are non-essential.
My Secondary School maths teacher would like to differ.
Work for adults and schools for students, on the other hand, are essential.
The minister also made the point that students only mingle with their classmates in school, so if there is a confirmed case in the school, immediate contact tracing would be easy and the spread can be contained by putting the class in quarantine.
But if there is a confirmed case in a tuition centre, many students from different schools may be at risk of infection.
This is why MOE also suspended classes at all MOE language centres, as well as private tuition and enrichment classes, he said.
Student care centres, however, will remain open because it enables the parents of these students to continue working, which is especially important for those in essential services such as healthcare.
In response to concerns over students who have travelled, Ong said that schools have been conducting checks on every student at the gate, to ensure that only those who had not travelled out of Singapore were to be allowed into the school.
Plus, students were asked to declare where they were travelling to before the March holidays.
Concerned parent: That’s fine, but what about commuting? Teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, so my child has to take public transport to school
Well, as you know, the authorities have been encouraging companies to allow their employees to work from home or allow flexible hours if possible. This way, there’ll be fewer commuters taking public transport during peak periods.
Ong added that his ministry is “actively considering: suggestions by parents on staggered hours and other measures for older students, to help reduce commuter traffic volume.”
Concerned parent: I have a suggestion: CLOSE DOWN SCHOOLS.
You see, even after the detailed explanation, many parents were not reassured.
While none of the students has tested positive for the coronavirus so far, one can understand why so many parents are concerned.
All we can do now is to trust that the authorities know what they’re doing.