All students and staff in close contact with infected student tested negative for Covid-19: Ong Ye Kung

The Secondary 3 students could return to school on June 30. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - All 39 students and 11 staff of East Spring Secondary School who were in contact with a Covid-19 infected student have tested negative, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Monday (June 29).

Mr Ong said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) knew about the case of the 15-year-old student on Saturday night and the school "immediately underwent thorough deep cleaning".

The student was tested as part of proactive screening of school students diagnosed with acute respiratory infection when they first see a doctor.

Classmates and teachers in close contact with the Secondary 3 student were put on leave of absence and sent for testing to make sure that a school-based transmission cluster had not formed, Mr Ong said.

While all students islandwide returned to school on Monday (June 29), the Secondary 3 cohort at East Spring Secondary School stayed home while testing took place.

Mr Ong said that as the school had safe management measures in place which kept each level from mixing, there was no need to close the whole school.

He added that the Secondary 3 students could return to school on Tuesday (June 30).

Mr Ong said: "I am glad we are able to handle the situation calmly and systematically, with the understanding and support of parents and students. This will be the new normal."

Monday was the first time in 12 weeks that schools were open to all cohorts at once since full home-based learning kicked off for all primary, secondary and pre-university students - including those from special education schools - on April 8, the day after circuit breaker measures were imposed in Singapore.

With the mid-year school holidays brought forward to May 5 to June 1, students in graduating cohorts returned to school on June 2, while the remaining cohorts alternated weekly between home-based learning and classes in school. This was until it was back to the classroom full-time on Monday.

Mr Ong said that he visited Ngee Ann Secondary School on Monday morning to see how they were coping with the full student population back for classes.

Mr Ong noted that students and teachers were familiar with the safe management measures, such as by having upper and lower secondary students take designated routes to their classrooms when they enter the school so that overcrowding does not occur.

Said Mr Ong: "Question screening remains a very important step in helping us quickly identify potential cases and prevent any clusters in schools.

"With all students back now, it's even more important that all of us practise social responsibility to continue keeping our schools a safe place."

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