Tuition and enrichment centres to cut class sizes and tweak lesson schedules for phase 2 reopening

A tutor during a live streaming session with a Sec 3 physics student on March 31, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

Tuition and other private enrichment centres will implement additional safety measures, including reducing class sizes and rescheduling some lessons, before they are allowed to resume operating from Friday as Singapore moves to phase two of reopening.

Private or home-based tuition, and piano, dance and drama lessons are examples of classes that can resume with the reopening. Singing or voice training classes will not be allowed.

The founder of Centre Stage School of the Arts, Mr Peter Hodgson, told The Straits Times that besides safe distancing measures, classes will be rescheduled to allow for a 10-minute break between each session. "This will allow the outgoing class to leave before the next class arrives, thus reducing contact," he said.

It will also give teachers time to disinfect the door handles and surfaces in the class.

In addition, the school is providing free masks for those who need replacements and a closed disposal bin for used masks.

Centre Stage School of the Arts, which offers programmes in areas including drama and musical theatre, will be resuming face-to-face classes on Monday.

Other centres are taking a more cautious approach on reopening.

Tuition provider EduReach said it plans to continue with online classes for now, after getting feedback from some parents.

Its director Sharifah Kassim said: "Due to the current situation, we are exploring blended learning possibilities and are gearing for more usage of IT tools in our curriculum... We plan to re-evaluate the situation in the next couple of weeks."

Dance school Recognize Studios has also decided not to resume lessons immediately. Its founder Felix Huang said there was "a lot of work to be done to ensure a safe and smooth reopening" and is targeting to reopen the studio on June 29.

"We have to determine the class size based on regulations released on various platforms, and try to make sense of what is allowable... Based on the (new) class size, we will have to reshuffle all our class schedules and slots for instructors."

Pricing and packages will also have to be restructured, based on the new restrictions in place, added Mr Huang.

When contacted by The Straits Times, parents by and large welcomed the resumption of education services.

Housewife Joanna Tan, 40, said she is glad that her Primary 5 son, who is enrolled in a mathematics tuition class at Learning Edge Education Centre, will be able to go back to "proper learning".

The centre has informed parents that it will be limiting each class to four students and that measures such as temperature taking as well as the SafeEntry check-in system will be in place, she said.

"There's a lot of catching up to do and my son has common tests coming up. Hopefully, he will be able to catch up," said Mrs Tan.

Ms Chlorin Chew, 40, has a son in Primary 6 who attends home-based private tuition. She said the tutor has not notified her of any exceptional safety measures, but her son will keep his mask on during lessons.

"As it's his PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) year, it's crucial for him to resume the lessons. I'm not worried about safety as it's a one-to-one lesson," said Ms Chew, who works as a secretary.

But some parents still have safety concerns.

Mrs Annette Tan, who is in her mid-40s and works in the travel industry, has two sons in Primary 6 and Secondary 3. They receive private tuition at home.

"We have been continuing lessons through Zoom and Skype, and will be keeping to this even in phase two. It seems a bit too quick (to commence phase two) as it's been only about two weeks since phase one.

"We will monitor the situation before deciding when to go back to face-to-face lessons," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2020, with the headline Tuition and enrichment centres to cut class sizes and tweak lesson schedules for phase 2 reopening. Subscribe