Students who get MOH health risk warning can return to school after Covid-19 negative swab test

An exit polymerase chain reaction test at designated testing centres must be taken for assurance that students and staff are not incubating the virus. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Students and staff who have received the Health Ministry's health risk warnings will be placed on an approved absence and can return to school only after their exit polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test result for Covid-19 is negative.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Education added that students with household members under the same warnings will also be placed on approved absence. They may return to school after their household member's first PCR test result is negative.

According to the MOH's website, health risk warnings are given to those who have had casual contact with a Covid-19 patient or visited higher-risk hot spots on the same day as the person. They are required to self-isolate until they get a negative test result for their first PCR test. An exit PCR test at designated testing centres must also be taken for assurance that they are not incubating the virus.

Meanwhile, students and staff who have been put under health risk alert - issued to those who have visited hot spots with Covid-19 patients - will be able to return to school, but are encouraged to limit their social interactions, said MOE.

ST understands that no school-based transmission has been detected following a spike in local cases related to large clusters at Jurong Fishery Port and KTV lounges.

The ministry said "a number" of students and staff have tested positive, in tandem with the rise in community cases in the past weeks. "The students have mild symptoms, and thus far, all students are recovering well," it added.

While school-based transmission has taken place before, ST understands that there have been no signs of this in the recent surge in cases.

If there are confirmed cases in schools, precautionary measures are implemented, including introducing home-based learning for affected levels or the entire school, said the ministry.

Over the past few weeks, at least 12 schools have had Covid-19 cases.

On Monday (July 26), Raffles Girls' Primary School went into home-based learning after a Primary 1 pupil tested positive. Pupils from Primary 2 to 6 returned to school the next day.

Last week, students in Years 1 to 4 at Raffles Institution switched to home-based learning for a day after a stall assistant at the school's canteen tested positive.

When a Primary 2 pupil in Yangzheng Primary School tested positive, all Primary 2 classes were placed on home-based learning on July 19 and 21. July 20 was Hari Raya Haji, a public holiday.

"MOE is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to review if any adjustment to safe management measures in schools is needed in line with national guidelines," it added.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in-person co-curricular activities (CCAs) for secondary schools and pre-university institutions will resume in the next few weeks.

CCAs were suspended as part of tightened restrictions with the return of phase two (heightened alert).

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