Students and staff on leave of absence can return to school once they or their close contacts test negative for Covid-19

The Ministry of Education said the change is in line with Singapore's gradual easing of community safe management measures.
The Ministry of Education said the change is in line with Singapore's gradual easing of community safe management measures.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - From Thursday (Aug 19), students and school staff who are placed on leave of absence because they are close contacts of a quarantined person can return to campus once they test negative for the coronavirus.

At present, students and staff are placed on leave of absence (LOA) if they are close contacts of someone who has been quarantined.

They must stay at home until the LOA is over. There is no fixed length of time for the LOA, as it varies from case to case.

For example, those given LOA because a family member has been served a stay-home notice are required to stay away from campus for the duration of the notice.

Also, those who have received a health risk warning and told to stay away from school can also return to campus once they test negative for Covid-19.

These moves will affect students and staff from primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges and the Millennia Institute, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a letter to parents and guardians on Wednesday.

The letter announced changes to both the leave of absence and the approved absence policies. Both are used to limit Covid-19 transmission by having people stay away from school campuses if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

MOE said the change is in line with Singapore's gradual easing of community safe management measures.

The letter said students and staff will have their leave of absence removed and will be able to return to school under either of two conditions.

Firstly, if the quarantined person tests negative for Covid-19 in an entry swab test at a government facility.

Or, secondly, if the close contact who is serving a quarantine order at home tests negative for Covid-19.

Similarly, the rules on approved absence have changed.

MOE said students who have to be tested for Covid-19 or those who have been sent a Health Risk Warning SMS by the Health Ministry need not stay home once they test negative. They do not have to wait out the full duration of their approved absence.

This also applies to students whose family members have to be tested for these reasons.

There is no fixed length of time for an approved absence, as it also varies from case to case.

However, there is no change in policy for those placed on approved absence because they have flu-like symptoms, or those with household members who have flu-like symptoms, MOE added.

People with flu-like symptoms will continue to be on approved absence for five days after their medical certificate expires.

Those with a household member who has flu-like symptoms must stay home until that person tests negative for Covid-19.

The full list of conditions that require students and staff to be placed on leave of absence or approved absence can be found on the MOE website.