Coronavirus: June school holidays brought forward to May 5

Students will get 1-week break in July; O-and A-level mother tongue exams rescheduled

This will cover the entire extended circuit breaker until June 1.
This will cover the entire extended circuit breaker until June 1.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The June school holidays will be brought forward to begin on May 5, to coincide with the one-month extension of the national circuit breaker period announced yesterday.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said: "While home-based learning has been going well, it has been an intense period of hard work and adjustment for parents, students and teachers.

"An early June holiday will give everyone a respite. It also buys us time for a less restrictive school opening in June."

With school holidays starting earlier, lessons will resume on June 2, MOE said. More details on the format the lessons should take will follow later.

This means that term 3 will now be longer, but MOE said a one-week mid-term break will take place from July 20 to 26.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Early Childhood Development Agency also announced last night that kindergartens will commence school holidays on May 5 and reopen on June 2.

In tandem with the extension of circuit breaker measures, the suspension of general services by pre-schools, student care centres, special student care centres and early intervention centres will also be extended to June 1.

However, childcare centres will continue to remain open to accommodate a small group of parents who are working in essential services like healthcare.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday in a Facebook post: "By June 1, hopefully, the situation will be much better, and we can look forward to a safe and orderly opening of schools."

Acknowledging that this period of home-based learning has not been easy for families, Mr Ong said it cannot be a prolonged substitute for attending school, but only a "fallback when schools are suspended".

"It is better to let everyone have a break from this intense period," he added.

The revised academic calendar is as follows:

  • May 5 to June 1: School holidays
  • June 2: Start of term 3
  • July 20 to 26: Mid-term break
  • Sept 6: End of term 3

MOE will also make changes to the curricula tested this year, to take into account the impact of the extended circuit breaker on curriculum time and to allay students' anxiety. It said that common last topics - a set of topics that are typically taught last by all schools towards the end of the academic year - will be removed from the national examinations this year.

These include "interactions within the environment" for science at the Primary School Leaving Examination level, vectors for O-level mathematics and "introduction to the chemistry of transition elements" for A-level H2 chemistry.

For skill-based subjects such as English language and mother tongue languages, MOE said it will not be "meaningful and practical" to identify common last topics.

"In such instances, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) will take the disruption to curriculum time into consideration during marking and grading to ensure that all students are fairly assessed," it added.

Mr Ong said removing the common last topics "will reduce the curriculum load and ease the pressure off teachers and students in catching up with the curriculum".

In the light of the changes, the SEAB will reschedule the mid-year mother tongue language (MTL) written examinations.

The O-level and A-level H1 MTL papers 1 and 2 scheduled for June 1 will be rescheduled to June 18, and the O-level and A-level MTL B papers 1 and 2 on June 2 will be shifted to June 19. The listening comprehension for O-and A-level MTL and MTL B will be rescheduled from July 21 and 22 respectively to July 27.

About 20,600 students across all schools have registered for the O-and A-level MTL mid-year examinations. The ministry noted that even with the adjustments, students in graduating cohorts will continue to face some anxiety.

It will arrange more consultations and face-to-face lessons with students when the situation improves. Schools will also help other students cope with the year-end school examinations, and MOE will guide schools further on how to make adjustments.

Students who do not have support at home will continue to be supported by a small group of teachers in schools.

The moves by MOE come after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's fourth national address on the Covid-19 situation yesterday, announcing that the one-month circuit breaker period will be extended by another month to June 1, to further curb the spread of the virus.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2020, with the headline 'June school holidays brought forward to May 5'. Subscribe