Coronavirus: PCF Sparkletots pre-schools reopen but Fengshan centre to remain closed till April 7

Pre-schoolers having their temperatures taken and adhering to social distancing measures at PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Pasir Ris West Blk 650 on March 30, 2020.
Pre-schoolers having their temperatures taken and adhering to social distancing measures at PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Pasir Ris West Blk 650 on March 30, 2020.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which operates 360 Sparkletots pre-schools here, has reopened all its schools except the Fengshan centre - it will remain closed till April 7 and reopen on April 8.

The Fengshan centre, which was closed on March 24, has the second largest Covid-19 cluster, with at least 26 confirmed cases. Only Safra Jurong has more confirmed cases.

All Sparkletots pre-schools were shut for four days from March 26 to allow for a thorough cleaning of premises and frequently touched surfaces, including toys, sleeping cots and shared learning resources.

On March 26, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that the country's largest pre-school operator has reviewed its standard operating procedures and guidelines with its staff.

This included refresher training on health, hygiene, and safety practices for all staff.

In a March 29 letter to parents, PCF’s chief executive Victor Bay apologised for closing all the centres on short notice, explaining that it was necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of the children and staff. 

He said: “The closure allows us some space and time to refresh our staff on health, hygiene and safety standard operating procedures, identify any gaps and tighten process.”

Parents were informed of additional safe distancing measures, along with health checks and temperature taking, which will be conducted three times a day for all staff and children. 

Mrs Genie Teng took her five-year-old son back to PCF Sparkletots @ Telok Blangah Blk 44 on Monday (March 30) as the "teachers have confirmed that they have not come in contact with any of the infected staff at the Fengshan centre".

The 33-year-old said she was informed that the pre-school has been thoroughly sterilised.

But she added that teachers should don masks and gloves when taking the temperature of pupils and staff, and during mealtimes.

However, Mrs Teng, who works in administration, said masks are not needed all the time.

"Parents are worried that the kids might be frightened if teachers wear masks for the entire day, and it may affect their teaching when it comes to pronouncing words, for instance," she explained.

 
 
 

Mrs Teng, who also has a nine-year-old daughter, said her helper looked after her son on the days the centre was closed.

Some other parents, however, kept their children from their respective Sparkletots pre-schools on Monday, saying they were not updated by the centres.

A parent, who wanted to be known only as Ms Sheena, said she did not receive an update from PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang South Blk 443, which her two-year-old son attends.

The assistant manager of a student-care centre has decided to keep him at home until she receives an update directly from the pre-school.

"I understand that different centres operate differently. I would like to receive updates on what measures the school has been taking, such as social distancing measures between kids," the 27-year-old said.

She hopes that there will be better communication between the centre and the parents.

Another parent, whose 20-month-old daughter attends PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Moulmein - Cairnhill Blk 10, expressed similar concerns about the lack of updates from her centre.

 
 
 

The 35-year-old, who declined to be named, said: "I sent my daughter to school today because I have to work (in a bank), but I am worried as I do not know what happens in school.

"More frequent updates will help to allay concerns parents like us have."

A Nursery 2 teacher at PCF Sparkletots @ Fengshan Block 126 had tested positive for the coronavirus on March 23 before the school was closed the next day. It emerged as a cluster on March 25 and so far, 16 employees and 10 family members of the staff have tested positive.

All staff and children have been placed on quarantine.


Correction note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct date that the Fengshan PCF Sparkletots centre will be reopened. We are sorry for the error.