Should Schools reopen tomorrow or should holidays be extended? - - Singapore Wacky Magazine

Should Schools reopen tomorrow or should holidays be extended?

School will reopen tomorrow on March 23.

A few days ago, we had updated that school will reopen tomorrow.

MOE had confirmed that school will reopen with a slew of measures in consideration of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore. Although the measures are extensive with directives such as compulsory 14 day isolation period (LOA) for those who travel from March 14 onwards as well as suspension of CCA and Social Distancing in School.

You can read the full measures here

However, with the continued spike in imported cases and persistent cases with unlink sources, the community had grown a little warier the past few days. To add on to the worries, additional measures were introduced for suspension of ALL large scale as well as restrictions on events with less than 250 people. Along with the announcement of 2 deaths in Singapore, it has rattled many parents as Monday draws near.

The question that is on every parent's mind.

Is it safe to go to school?

Why it is safe?
Measures are comprehensive 

The most assuring measure would be the compulsory LOA for students who travel from March 14 onwards. This would put anyone who is out of town at home and away from school. There is currently no indication of how many students and staff are out during this period. It should not be difficult to predict given that all students and Staff have to pre- declare their travels during this period.

No cases of Under 18 reported since March 14.
There are no cases of under18 reported since March 14. This means that despite the rising number of confirmed cases, children are still sheltered from the virus at this stage.

Why it may not be safe?

Gaps in Stay Home Notice (SHN)
While Stay Home Notice applies to all students and staff who travel, it does not extend to them even if immediate family members are issued Stay Home Notice (SHN)

For travellers who visited ASEAN, UK , Japan and Switzerland, the SHN only applies from March 17. For all visitors, the SHN only applies from today. With cases from UK and USA rising prior to the SHN kicking in, there is a risk that there are more undetected cases already present in Singapore.

As a result, parents are concerned that the SHN for students and staff are not extended to those with immediate family members who travelled from March 14. Since children are known to be asymptomatic, it may be harder to detect if they have caught the virus from family members. This would pose a potential risk when school starts.

Increased activities in attractions over the week.
As local residents chose to remain in Singapore rather than to travel, there had been an increase in attendance to activities over the past few days. Despite the growing number of confirmed cases, large crowds were spotted at attractions.

Given the demographics of those who visit these attractions ( Families with young kids), the potential transmission could occur in these situations. As indicated by Minister Lawrence Wong,  social gatherings or any activity involving close contact can be a potential vector for transmission of the virus

Social Distancing may not be possible in some cases
As students take school buses or public transport to work, there is a risk that social distancing would not be possible in such cases. Unless there is a limit to the number of passengers, taking public transportation would often result in close contact. In addition, the gathering of parents/helpers during school dismissal is another potential source of transmission.

It is in situations like these that are beyond the control of parents and schools and thus a major worry as it occurs on a daily basis.

To Reopen or Delay?

To delay in the reopening of school in such short notice would probably create an issue with parents that are not working from home. There might not be ample time given for parents to make the necessary preparations, leaving many in limbo if implemented.

In many cases, parents may not have the option of finding a caregiver for the children due to limited resources. Even if they want to choose to stay at home with the child, it may impact the parents' income which may be necessary to keep the family afloat. In addition, the new measures and the fact that no cases under 18 are reported should provide additional support for school reopening.

The main worry is that there will be hidden cases that are undetected in spite of the strict measures. Given that schools are designed to be communal, they are potential breeding grounds for clusters.

Despite the worries, unless the situation takes a turn for the worse ( eg confirmed cases in students or staff), it might be better to forge ahead with the reopening with all things considered. Nonetheless, given the fluidity of the situation, it might be time to start planning on contingency plans should schools be suspended.

For all you know, the inevitable may happen sooner than expected.

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