SINGAPORE - While parents are encouraged to keep their children at home in the coming weeks, as telecommuting is now the default, pre-schools and student care centres will remain open to support parents who need to work, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday (May 16).
"We understand that many parents are essential workers who need to work... They will require services in the schools and childcare centres to help them during this period, and we will make all efforts to help parents and families who require such services," he said at a virtual press conference.
The announcement comes amid a spike in Covid-19 community cases here, and as the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that all schools will start full home-based learning from Wednesday (May 19) until May 28, when the school term ends.
In a press release, MOE also said that schools will remain open for students who require additional support. In particular, parents working in essential services or who are unable to secure alternative care arrangements may approach their children's primary schools for assistance.
As for pre-schools and student care centres, the ministry said: "As work-from-home will be the default mode at workplaces, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home during this period where possible."
For parents of pre-schoolers who are able to keep their children at home, the ministry said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is prepared to waive the minimum attendance requirement for pre-school subsidies.
ECDA is also prepared to waive the requirement for pre-schools to remain in operation at required hours during the period of home-based learning, if all parents in the pre-school decide to keep their children at home, added the ministry.
Mr Chan said that the authorities understand that this shift to home-based learning may cause anxiety in some parents, as it did during the circuit breaker last year.
"But we want to assure parents that MOE will continue to extend help and our fullest support to schools, teachers, and parents who require additional help to make these adjustments," he said.
The announcement to shift schools to home-based learning comes after Singapore on Sunday reported 49 new Covid-19 cases, including 38 in the community - the highest figure of community cases in more than a year.
Of the community cases, 18 are currently unlinked. And 13 of the community cases had already been placed under quarantine earlier.
Several cases that emerged in the past few days are linked to tuition centres, though none of the pupils seemed to have caught the virus while in school thus far.
Tuition centres which had students that tested positive for Covid-19 include The Learning Lab tuition centre in United Square, the HCL Education Centre at Katong V as well as enrichment centre Learning Point in Parkway Centre.