Forum: Wait until national exams in schools are over to relax mask rules

It was probably only a matter of time before mandatory mask-wearing was no longer required indoors, with Singapore treating Covid-19 as endemic.

But after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the impending change during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, I and other parents I spoke to felt that changing the rules would be ill-timed if it happens in the coming weeks. National exams like the PSLE and O levels are just around the corner.

Over the past few years, we have seen how mask-wearing has helped limit the spread of respiratory illness. Lifting the mask mandate before the major exams could result in more children falling ill and more absenteeism in schools, affecting those who would soon be taking their national exams.

As a parent of a Primary 6 child taking the PSLE this year, I have seen first-hand the stress felt by the previous batch of pupils who took the PSLE and their parents when the children fell ill due to Covid-19 and had to be absent from school or miss the exam.

With most national exams starting soon in October, I hope the authorities will wait to lift the mask mandate - particularly in schools - until the exams are over.

Even when there is no need to wear masks in schools, parents should remain socially responsible and refrain from sending their sick children to school, or at least have such children wear a mask.

Schools, too, should remind parents about their social responsibility, and remain vigilant in asking unwell students to go home or mask up. Social responsibility needs to be a new norm in our Covid-19-endemic society.

Teo Leng Lee

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