Coronavirus outbreak: IMPACT ON SCHOOLS

Victoria JC suspends co-curricular activities and keeps classes small

An aerial view of Victoria Junior College. The teacher, who is warded in an isolation room, had not interacted with any colleagues or students after she began showing symptoms.
An aerial view of Victoria Junior College. The teacher, who is warded in an isolation room, had not interacted with any colleagues or students after she began showing symptoms.PHOTO: VICTORIAJC_OFFICIAL/INSTAGRAM

A 42-year-old Victoria Junior College (VJC) teacher has been infected with the coronavirus, it was revealed yesterday, and staff and students who have been in recent contact with her will be put on a 14-day leave of absence.

The school will also disinfect the staff room, pantry and teaching rooms the teacher was in, said Ms Liew Wei Li, director of schools at the Ministry of Education.

In addition, co-curricular activities have been suspended for 14 days, and the school will conduct more tutorial-size classes, rather than larger lectures.

"We will take similar measures for other schools if we happen to have cases in other schools," Ms Liew said at a media briefing yesterday. "In this way, we can continue with meaningful learning even as we keep our students and our staff safe."

The affected teacher, who is Singaporean, lives in Elias Road. She had not travelled to mainland China recently and has not been in school since Jan 31. She reported having symptoms of the virus on Sunday and was admitted to Parkway East Hospital on Wednesday. On Thursday, at about 11pm, tests confirmed that she had the virus.

The teacher, who is warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, had not interacted with any colleagues or students after she began showing symptoms.

In a Facebook post last night, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said: "I spoke with the teacher on the phone earlier this evening. She felt bad about what happened, but I assured her it was not her fault. What we are doing are necessary precautions to keep our schools safe."

In a letter seen by The Straits Times, VJC principal Ek Soo Ben informed parents of the case, stressing that those put on leave of absence were not ill.

"Please be assured that these individuals are healthy; they are performing a social duty to isolate themselves, as a precaution," she wrote.

 
 

Business development manager Corrine Lim, whose son is a student at the college, said she wished for more information on the precautions.

"I have so many questions, chief among them being how come only a few teachers have been put on leave of absence since it is an open staff room," said Madam Lim, who is in her 40s.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2020, with the headline 'Victoria JC suspends co-curricular activities and keeps classes small'. Subscribe