Parents, tutors supportive of move to online classes amid surge in Covid-19 cases

Some parents worry that shifting back and forth to HBL may impact their children's studies. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - Ms Yohannes Azman is a single mum of two: her 15-year-old daughter is a student at Canberra Secondary School and her son, 11, a pupil at Rainbow Centre Admiral Hill School.

The 36-year-old, who works in the early childhood sector, welcomed the recent announcement that schools will start full home-based learning (HBL) from Wednesday (May 19) until May 28.

With her children spending less time outdoors, Ms Yohannes said her mind was at ease that the risk of them contracting the coronavirus was reduced.

However, the shift to HBL also meant that she had to make arrangements for the supervision of her children, especially her son who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

"My son needs his routine in place, and that includes waking up early and having his meals at specific timings. The difficulty that I face will be getting him to complete his work without his teachers' presence, as he can be quite cheeky," said Ms Yohannes.

As she has to commute to work, the children will be supervised by their father, who works at night.

The Ministry of Education also said on Sunday that all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes must move activities online till June 13 or further notice, to reduce interaction between students from different schools.

Mr Jerry Guo, 39, founder of MaxiMath Education Centre, said he expected the change. He had been monitoring the situation, and when Covid-19 case numbers started to rise last week, he warned his students they might have to shift back to online classes.

He said: "Based on last year's experience, some parents feel online classes are not as effective. So this year, I offered to extend the lesson duration for some online classes and hold free physical consultation sessions when the situation improves."

While he acknowledges that virtual lessons have their shortcomings - one of them being the difficulty of customising his teaching to different students - he embraces the change.

He said: "I welcome these kinds of drastic measures by the Government because I would rather they act quickly and control the situation instead of dragging it out."

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Similarly, Ms Jacqueline Chua, 46, principal of Paideia Learning Academy, had little trouble adapting to the change.

The centre has been examining different methods of conducting lessons virtually since last year.

Ms Chua said: "Last week, we realised the situation started looking a bit similar, so we revisited the whole system. Once it hit the schools, it became quite clear we needed to take action.

"It was really fast this time round. We knew what to do and we were prepared for it," she added.

While parents are thankful for the measures put in place for the safety of their children, some worry that shifting back and forth from HBL may impact their children's studies.

Ms Wendy Teh, 36, who works in early childhood education, has two daughters, aged 11 and 12, who are students at Oasis Primary School.

She said she fully supports MOE's decision to switch to HBL but she worries that her elder daughter's studies may be affected, especially as she will be taking her Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year.

Ms Teh said: "She was supposed to have extra classes in school over the holidays but they have all been cancelled. I think they will organise some online classes, but there have been no updates so far."

She said: "I feel that the Government is trying its best and made the best decision for that moment. Some ideas may not have worked, but they would improve on it. I truly appreciate their actions in managing this crisis."

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