Coronavirus: ECDA orders Fengshan PCF Sparkletots centre to close for 2 weeks after teacher tests positive

The pre-school at Block 126 Fengshan is closed for thorough cleaning and disinfection of its premises, as an added precautionary measure. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has ordered a pre-school centre in Bedok North to close until April 7 after a teacher tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday (March 23) and several staff reported that they recently became unwell.

The staff are being tested for Covid-19. And all staff and children at the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots centre in Fengshan Block 126 will be placed on quarantine. Contact tracing by the Ministry of Health (MOH) is also being conducted.

The centre was closed on Tuesday for thorough cleaning and disinfection, and classes were set to resume on Wednesday, but late Tuesday night, ECDA announced the temporary closure after some staff said they were ill.

The Nursery 2 teacher was in school last Wednesday and feeling well. She was on leave from that day to last Friday but came in for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon for work that did not involve teaching children. She experienced the onset of symptoms last Friday and went to see a doctor.

The centre is closely monitoring its staff and parents on the health of their children.

ECDA and MOH initially assessed that the available facts did not allow them to close the centre for 14 days.

In an e-mail sent to parents on Monday, ECDA chief licensing officer Jamie Ang said the pre-school had implemented precautionary measures over the past month, including increasing the frequency of temperature screening, ensuring personal and environmental hygiene practices among children and staff, restricting visitors, and suspending large group activities.

As the teacher's last contact with the pre-school was two days before the onset of symptoms and she was well then at the centre, there was no need to close the centre for 14 days based on the available facts, said Ms Ang as the time.

Ms Marini Khamis, senior director of PCF's pre-school management division, said the teacher attended to some work last Wednesday which did not involve conducting lessons for children.

An expert from a professional cleaning disinfection company engaged by PCF Sparkletots disinfects the pre-school at Block 126 Fengshan on March 24, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The teacher had cleared the necessary health checks and temperature taking that day before entering the centre.

In response to queries, Ms Marini said that parents of children at the centre have been informed through telephone calls from staff and teachers, and through PCF's parent engagement portal.

Parents are also advised to closely monitor their children's health and take them to a doctor if they are unwell.

She added: "Since January 2020, PCF Sparkletots has been in strict compliance with the Covid-19 precautionary measures outlined by ECDA.

"We have aligned our measures with ECDA's directives and remain prepared to step up these measures as and when needed."

These measures include conducting health and temperature checks three times a day, regular cleaning and sanitising frequently touched surfaces, toys and shared items, as well as practising good personal hygiene such as handwashing.

"We have suspended all non-essential visits to our centres during this period to minimise the risk of community transmission.

"Large group activities and excursions have also been suspended to minimise exposure of children and staff to large crowds," said Ms Marini.

Staff at all its pre-schools islandwide will also continue to be on the alert for Covid-19 symptoms, she added.

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