The Big Story: Schools will avoid whole level HBL when dealing with Covid-19 infections

SINGAPORE - Catch up on the hottest topics on The Straits Times' weekday talk show.

The Big Story, broadcast every weekday at 5.30pm on Facebook and YouTube, has reporters and senior editors discussing the top stories of the day.

The show is helmed by multimedia correspondent Hairianto Diman and assistant video editor Olivia Quay, and airs live from ST's digital studio.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 13), Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that since early August, his ministry has moved towards a more targeted approach when dealing with Covid-19 infections.

"This means that where possible, we will place close contacts and students from the same classes or CCA groups under LOA or QO instead of putting the entire level on HBL."

HBL refers to home-based learning, while LOA refers to leave of absence. QO refers to quarantine order.

Mr Chan also noted that from May to July, 216 students were infected by Covid-19. Over those three months, more than 20,000 students across 50 schools were placed on HBL at different times.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated teachers and school staff must take antigen rapid tests twice a week from October 1. The new rule also applies to non-government employees who have regular contact with students 12 years old and below, such as those who work in tuition or enrichment centres.

Separately, Safra Tampines will remain open, even though a cluster linked to it grew to nine cases as at Thursday. The club has disinfected areas visited by those affected and will continue with safe management measures at all Safra premises.

And, are you still unsure about the differentiated Covid-19 rules for social gatherings and dining in based on vaccination status? Get answers to commonly asked questions on The Big Story before making weekend plans.

In other news, four Royal Malaysian Air Force were killed in a shooting incident at their camp at Kota Samarahan, Sarawak on Friday morning. A servicemen shot his three colleagues while on guardhouse duty, and later turned the gun on himself.

Separately, the English Premier League (EPL) kicks off on Friday night, and fans will be allowed in stadiums for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Sports correspondent Sazali Abdul Aziz looks ahead to the new EPL season. He weighs in on reigning champion Manchester City's title chances, as well as the club's closest challengers.