Forum: Give option to take kids out of school

I believe many parents are appreciative of the efforts put in by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools (Coronavirus: Ong: No need to suspend school with enhanced measures, Feb 8).

However, I'm sure there are also those who do not feel the measures are adequate in the wake of local transmission of the coronavirus.

While mass assemblies and external activities are cancelled, children are still sitting in close contact with one another in classrooms that are sometimes filled with up to 40 students.

Children are still travelling in school buses packed to maximum capacity, or taking public transport with crowds during peak hours.

Indeed, the best form of protection against any contagious illness is teaching children good hygiene practices.

But children are not as mindful as adults. Both my children in primary school often come home telling me certain classmates coughed into their faces, or that they saw their classmates biting their fingernails or rubbing their eyes.

This is despite constant reminders by their teachers to avoid such unhygienic behaviours.

Similarly, despite reminders, even some adults do not practise good habits such as coughing into tissue and not touching their faces, never mind young children.

Suspending school would be of great inconvenience to families who do not have help looking after their children during school hours.

MOE should perhaps consider a temporary, limited suspension of school, by giving parents the option of taking their children out of school and letting the children learn via e-learning from home until the risk of local transmission of the coronavirus has subsided.

For parents who do not have childcare options during school hours, allow their children to continue attending classes in school, but keep what is taught there in line with what is taught via e-learning during this period.

If lessons continue as usual, parents would feel pressured to send their children to school for fear of missing out on lessons.

Companies should play their part by allowing employees - if their jobs allow for it - to work from home if they need to care for their children during this period.

Rather than scrambling to find solutions if and when local transmission spreads further, the authorities should be taking more pre-emptive and decisive measures to protect children.

Teo Leng Lee