Students, staff on quarantine order can go to school if they have negative Covid-19 ART results

With the new rules, quarantine orders, leave of absence or approved absence will no longer apply for primary and secondary schools, and institutes of higher learning. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Students and staff under quarantine order can return to school from Monday (Oct 11) if they feel well and get a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result for Covid-19 the day before.

This also applies to those on a leave of absence or an approved absence.

In a statement on Sunday (Oct 10), the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) issued updated Covid-19 measures for primary and secondary schools, special education schools, junior colleges, Millennia Institute and institutes of higher learning.

It comes after Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Oct 9) said there would be a streamlined set of rules for Covid-19 patients and close contacts as part of efforts to simplify the process of managing the virus.

MOE said it will no longer issue leave of absence or approved absence for those in primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute.

From Monday, the Health Ministry will also issue a seven-day health risk warning (HRW) to students in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Those on HRW will be allowed to return to school after their first negative ART self-test.

The Health Ministry's website said those on HRW have to self-isolate and test themselves with an ART kit on the day that the HRW is issued.

They are allowed to continue with normal activities for the day if this test is negative and have to continue getting negative ART results for subsequent days.

Following national protocols, people confirmed to have the virus or are on stay-home notice will not be allowed to return to school until the end of the isolation order or stay-home notice.

Candidates on HRW will also be allowed to sit their national year-end examinations from Monday, said the MOE and SEAB statement.

Under new rules, these students are now permitted to take public transport to and from their exam venue.

But they have to inform their school of their intention to sit the exams and meet the Health Ministry's test protocol requirements, said the statement.

This means they will need to test negative for Covid-19 with an ART kit on the first day of being issued a HRW and on the day of their exams before leaving home.

On arrival in school, they have to show a photo of their ART kits with the negative test results to the invigilators, said MOE and SEAB.

Candidates must place their ID next to the ART kit in the photograph.

The statement added that strict safe management measures will be in place at examination venues for candidates on HRW. These include being seated in separate venues from other candidates and exam-style seating with 3m of spacing for written papers.

Meanwhile, those on medical leave will be allowed to sit the national year-end exams if they have fully recovered.

However, a candidate who is symptomatic and has been prescribed a polymerase chain reaction test by a healthcare professional to assess a Covid-19 infection should continue to self-isolate until results are out and negative, said the statement.

Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are on stay-home notice are still not allowed to sit the exams.

Nevertheless, candidates who have travelled overseas to attend a funeral or visit a critically ill next-of-kin can take the written exams under special arrangements.

Students going to New Town Primary School on Oct 11, 2021. MOE said it will no longer issue leave of absence or approved absence for those in primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

They will take the exams in schools but must take their own private vehicles or pre-book taxis to the exam venue as they are not allowed to take public transport.

Those who have missed national exams with valid reasons, including Covid-19-related reasons, can apply for special consideration.

"Special consideration is a well established procedure which awards candidates with projected grades through a fair and rigorous evidence-based methodology," said the statement, adding that it will consider multiple sources of data.

"Schools will continue to maintain tight screening using temperature-taking, observation and screening questions at the start of the school day to keep school safe for all," said the statement.

Clarification note: This article has been updated to clarify that staff and students on quarantine orders will need a negative ART result before returning to school.

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