SINGAPORE - Students across schools on Wednesday (Feb 5) saw new precautions implemented after Singapore recorded the first local transmissions of the coronavirus, including having assemblies in their respective classrooms instead of in the school hall and staggered recess timings.
The new measures, announced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday evening, come on top of enhanced steps such as daily temperature taking implemented since last week.
Primary and secondary schools, special education schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute were among those implementing the new measures.
A spokesman for Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) said mass lectures have been replaced by online learning.
"Mass assembly talks have either been postponed or the materials posted online for all students," he said, adding that mass orientation activities that involve the entire cohort have also either been cancelled or postponed.
"These measures and adjustments are made to minimise congregation of students in large numbers."
Orientation activities in junior colleges were also affected, with Wednesday being the first day of school for JC1 students.
HCI JC2 student Valere Ng, 18, told The Straits Times that some orientation activities, such as a mass dance activity for JC1 students, was cancelled.
She added: "Some activities for orientation are still ongoing but the school has taken measures to ensure that there aren't too many people in the same space at the same time."
An upcoming post-orientation party could be cancelled, she said.
MOE and the Ministry of Social and Family Development said the measures to minimise gatherings of students in large numbers are aimed at protecting students and staff from the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan.
Parents welcomed the new measures.
Housewife Dadina Ong, 43, who has a son in Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), said that parents entering the school from Wednesday were also being asked to take their temperature at the guardhouse.
The primary school is also postponing an annual school swim meet that was supposed to take place on Wednesday afternoon, she said.
Mrs Ong added: “The schools are trying to make the situation more manageable and reduce human traffic to make it safer for children. I’m reassured by the new measures.”
Housewife Tammy Ng, 49, who has a son in Primary 5, told The Straits Times that staggering recess was a good idea, as it prevented overcrowding, and would give students enough time to wash their hands properly.
Singapore has recorded its first cases of local transmission of the virus. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said four women who had not travelled to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, tested positive for the virus.
In addition, two more confirmed cases were announced on Tuesday. The two Singaporeans were among a group of 92 people who were flown back from Wuhan on a Scoot flight last Thursday.
The six new cases reported on Tuesday brought the total number of confirmed cases in Singapore to 24.