SINGAPORE - Not all children necessarily have conducive environments for home-based learning (HBL), said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
And putting children on a prolonged HBL schedule can have a negative impact on their academic progress and socio-emotional well-being, he added.
In a Facebook post on Thursday (Oct 7), he said: "HBL must thus only be a last resort, to be used in a targeted manner."
His comments come just as the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Thursday morning announced a raft of measures to get primary school pupils back into the classroom in stages from Monday (Oct 11).
Primary 1 to 5 pupils were put on HBL for two weeks from Sept 27 as part of efforts to curb the risk of Covid-19 transmission amid a large surge in cases.
Mr Chan in his post said he was aware of the dilemma facing parents and educators on having to choose between resuming in-person schooling and extending HBL.
However, he added that there is a need to learn to live with the virus - which will be around for "quite some time" - and take steps to minimise its impact on lives and learning.
Mr Chan said: "We want to keep our children safe. We want to take care of their academic and socio-emotional development holistically. We want to do all this in a safe and sustainable way.
"We also understand the stresses and strains on families and educators who need to juggle work and caring for their children during HBL. It is not easy."
Mr Chan said the choice to allow pupils to return to the classroom will give them a chance to learn while reconnecting face to face with their peers for their socio-emotional development.
He said the move to go back to the classroom will be done in phases, so that teachers and school staff can better ensure that safe management measures are implemented effectively.
Rounding off his post, Mr Chan said: "We look forward to vaccinating our school children soonest possible when the vaccines are approved for use and available to us."