Coronavirus: Parents question tuition suspension; centres go online

Some say move unnecessary because schools remain open; others welcome safety measure

Many parents said they did not think it was necessary to suspend tuition classes because schools have not been closed. PHOTO: ST FILE

Tuition centres are ready to go online, even as parents questioned the need for them to close.

Under new measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended from Friday to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools.

Many parents The Straits Times spoke to yesterday said they did not think it was necessary to suspend tuition classes because schools have not been closed.

Housewife Joanna Tan, 40, whose Primary 5 son is enrolled in a maths tuition class at Learning Edge Education Centre, said: "I feel the decision to keep schools open and close tuition centres is contradictory. Parents and students mingle a lot more at schools."

"Most tuition centres are also taking precautions, and tuition classes are a lot smaller and more casual, which makes it easier for teachers to manage. So I actually feel safer taking my son to tuition than to school," she added.

Madam Kristine Khoo, 41, who runs a handicraft business, is worried that the suspension would affect her twin daughters, who are sitting the Primary School Leaving Examination this year.

The twins attend tuition lessons for English, maths and science at a centre in Marine Parade.

"The centre already takes a lot of precautions. They keep telling us to inform them if the kids are not well or if the family has gone on holiday, and they would do the necessary make-up lessons," said Madam Khoo.

"They also take the kids' temperatures and make sure they are well."

She added that tuition lessons are also shorter than a school day as each session lasts only about two hours. "They might as well lock down schools too," she said.

Meanwhile, tuition and enrichment centres contacted by ST said they would abide by the rules.

Ms Calla Chiang, 39, director of the Science Studios Learning Centre, said the centre will be converting its lessons to home-based online learning.

It has already put in place an online learning system, which includes video recording of lessons.

These videos will be made available on the centre's existing online learning platform, Science Studios Online, she said.

She added: "We have to try our best to make sure that students continue to learn well and even enjoy the process."

Speech Academy Asia, which provides communication training classes, will be launching webinar lessons, said its co-founder Kelvin Tan, 41.

Mr Tan added that the centre will incorporate gaming elements for online learning, such as asking students to utilise knowledge from the webinar lessons to solve tasks.

Mr Lim Weiyi, 39, co-founder of tuition centre Study Room, said the centre will be arranging for one-hour online lectures.

Students and their parents will then have a 10-minute one-to-one engagement with tutors via video conferencing.

This is to ensure that the engagement and interaction between students and tutors remains, he said.

Some parents welcomed the new measures.

Ms Angeline Goh said she had pulled her Primary 1 son out of his aikido class last month. He also attends creative writing enrichment lessons.

"The percentage of risk reduces with the suspension of such classes", added the 41-year-old, who works in customer service.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Parents question tuition suspension; centres go online. Subscribe