Coronavirus: Performing arts schools to suspend classes for students

Indian traditional performing arts institution Bhaskar's Arts Academy is suspending all dance and music classes under its Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.
Indian traditional performing arts institution Bhaskar's Arts Academy is suspending all dance and music classes under its Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.PHOTO: LIJESH PHOTOGRAPHY

Performing arts schools will suspend classes for young and school-going children from midnight tonight as these lessons are considered to be centre-based tuition and enrichment classes.

Dance, theatre and music academies told The Straits Times (ST) that they are complying with government measures to suspend classes for school-going children, while some are planning to reduce the capacity for adult classes.

All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools and enhance the safety of students under rules announced on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said last night that all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes for young and school-going children, whether academic or non-academic, will be subject to the suspension.

"Centre-based classes may be replaced with online learning," it said.

ST understands that one-to-one lessons for young and school-going children at these centres will also be cancelled.

Private tutors who are not based in centres, such as those who teach in students' homes, can still hold lessons, but they have been urged to practise social distancing, segregate students from different schools and ensure that those on leave of absence or stay-home notices do not attend.

Tuition and enrichment centres should also reduce close physical interaction between employees who continue to work, as outlined by the Ministry of Health (MOH), said MOE. Teleconferencing should be used in place of physical meetings where possible.

Performing arts schools said last night that they were complying with the measure to cancel classes, with some planning to teach online.

Indian traditional performing arts institution Bhaskar's Arts Academy is suspending all dance and music classes under its Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

The teaching wing, which oversees 600 students, of which 60 per cent are children and teenagers, hopes to hold these classes online through group video calls.

Education services provider Apsara Asia said its programmes are being cancelled by enrichment centres. All of its co-curricular activity classes for schools have been suspended.

Apsara Asia, which works with about 100 students across six partner organisations, is reducing work hours and pay of staff to cope with the plunge in revenue.

Dance school Recognize! Studios is cancelling all lessons for children and keeping classes for adults to 10 people, in line with government measures.

Drama school Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity will go ahead with adult classes of up to 10 people after consulting MOH, but will suspend workshops for children.

Centre Stage School of the Arts is cancelling all classes. "We will provide as much online as we can," said a school spokesman.

Music school Aureus Academy may offer online classes. "We will comply with measures which are in the best interest of Singapore residents and our students," said a spokesman.

However, not everyone is happy with the suspension of classes at tuition and enrichment centres.

The Music Academy operations manager Johnny Yeo said: "We have been taking precautionary measures such as social distancing, and only two to three of the six studios at our academy are occupied at a given time.

"I know where the Government is coming from, but it should not be so cautious as to micromanage."

Besides the cancellation of classes at performing arts academies, music exams by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music have been suspended.

"We will not be taking any new bookings for forthcoming practical or theory exams, and will be delaying the introduction of our new exam booking service," it said, adding that its representatives will be in touch with applicants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Performing arts schools to suspend classes for students'. Print Edition | Subscribe