Coronavirus pandemic

About 6,000 pre-school staff tested for Covid-19 so far

Pre-school employees yesterday at Temasek Polytechnic, one of the centres conducting the one-time swab tests.
Pre-school employees yesterday at Temasek Polytechnic, one of the centres conducting the one-time swab tests. PHOTO: DESMOND LEE/FACEBOOK

Around 6,000 pre-school teachers, assistants and other workers have had precautionary tests for Covid-19 so far, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.

Some 30,000 employees in pre-schools and early intervention will get the one-time swab test by May 26, in preparation for the reopening of pre-schools.

Mr Lee, who visited a testing centre at Temasek Polytechnic yesterday, said in a Facebook post that his ministry is assessing the situation and hopes to be able to make an announcement on whether general services at pre-schools will resume on June 2, after circuit breaker measures end.

"The tests will help safeguard the health and well-being of our pre-school community, and give peace of mind to the staff, their families and parents of pre-school children," he said.

In a separate Facebook post yesterday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who also visited the testing centre at Temasek Polytechnic, said that testing operations "were functioning like clockwork".

Each station can test around 30 staff per hour - or about one test every two minutes, he noted.

Mr Ong thanked both pre-school staff for going through with the discomfort of the swab tests as well as healthcare workers for doing the testing.

He noted that testing was a good move as these staff work in close contact with very young children and the test results would provide reassurance to staff, their families as well as the families of pre-school pupils.

On the first day of testing last Friday, long queues were seen at Khatib MRT station, with some pre-school staff turning up hours ahead of their scheduled test slots, the Ministry of Social and Family Development said.

A scheduling issue involving a pre-school operator also contributed to the long line, it added. Buses taking employees from the MRT station to the testing centre had to be stepped up to ease the crowds.

The tests for pre-school staff complement other measures such as restricting visitors and temperature screenings, which will continue to apply when the centres reopen.

Those who need to be tested include principals, teachers and educarers, who look after infants and toddlers. Non-programme staff like cleaners and cooks, and relief and new staff starting work in June are also required to undergo a swab test.

Tests must be completed before the pre-school centres reopen.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2020, with the headline About 6,000 pre-school staff tested for Covid-19 so far. Subscribe