We thank Ms Teo Leng Lee, Ms Khoo Yik Lin and Mr Alex Yeo for their feedback and suggestions related to mask-wearing in schools (Wait until national exams in schools are over to relax mask rules; P6 cohort has been through a lot already, both Aug 24; and With masks now optional, what other protective measures are in place? Aug 25).
In the past two years, while mask-wearing has served a key purpose of minimising the risk of disease transmission, it has posed challenges to teaching and learning in schools. As Singapore becomes more Covid-19-resilient due to high vaccination and booster rates, as well as safe recovery from infections, the legal requirement for mask-wearing in indoor settings has been removed from Aug 29.
In tandem with the national posture, students and teachers now also have the option of unmasking indoors. This will provide opportunities to support students' learning and developmental needs, and allow them to communicate and build bonds with one another with greater ease.
Nonetheless, we note the concerns raised by the writers over the safety and well-being of students, and would like to assure them that these remain our priority.
Students and teachers who prefer to continue wearing masks in school may do so, including for the national examinations. To minimise the risk of school-based transmissions prior to the Primary School Leaving Examination, Primary 6 pupils will go on a study break from Sept 26 to 28, similar to the past two years' practice.
Schools will also continue to employ measures to ensure a safe school and examination environment, including wiping down high-touch surfaces and conducting visual screening of students' well-being.
As we have learnt from our experience with Covid-19 thus far, exercising personal and social responsibility is key in keeping the school community safe.
Those who are unwell are advised to follow the Ministry of Health's protocols to self-isolate and to see a doctor.
Candidates sitting the national examinations who are absent with valid reasons for any paper can apply for special consideration. All such applications are reviewed on each case's merit, and will be subject to a rigorous review process to ensure that candidates are assessed and awarded a grade fairly.
We encourage all students and teachers to continue to stay vigilant, practise good personal hygiene and seek medical attention if they are unwell.
Tan Chen Kee
Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools
Ministry of Education
Yue Lip Sin
Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board