Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

4 students and 1 non-teaching staff from different schools test positive for Covid-19; all have mild symptoms

SINGAPORE – Four students and one non-teaching staff from five different schools have tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement on Sunday (June 7), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said all five cases had mild symptoms, and are from Anglican High School, CHIJ Katong Convent, CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent, Geylang Methodist Secondary School and Hwa Chong Institution respectively.

They are thus not a cluster, the ministry said, adding that the cases were picked up as part of surveillance testing that began since June 2 for all students above the age of 12 and school staff who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection when they first see a doctor.

“While positive, the tests for all five cases revealed low viral loads,” MOE said, adding that a repeat test using new samples showed that all five cases were negative.

The evidence thus suggests the cases were likely infected during the end of the circuit breaker period, and not after schools reopened on June 2, the ministry added.

In all, 29 staff and 100 students who were in contact with the confirmed cases in school have each been issued with a 14-day leave of absence (LOA) by MOE or home quarantine order (HQO).

Schools had reopened on June 2 after two months of school closure.

Students were put on full home-based learning (HBL) for about a month from April 8 as part of circuit breaker measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus. They then had a one-month school holiday after the June holidays were brought forward to May 5.

The student from Hwa Chong Institution was last in school on April 7, before the start of full HBL.

Of the other four cases, three were last in school on June 3, while one went to school on June 2, MOE said.

Three of the five cases had onset of symptoms on June 3, while one began having symptoms on June 2 and the other, on May 31.

MOE said all five were screened when entering their schools, and did not have a fever or visible flu-like symptoms.

Contact tracing and investigations are currently ongoing.

The students and staff who are in home quarantine will be swabbed for Covid-19 twice – once before the start of the quarantine and once at the end, said MOE.

MOE said arrangements for all schools, including the five affected schools, remain unchanged.

This means that for this coming week from Monday, Primary 1, 2, 3 and 6 students, as well as Secondary 3, 4 and 5 students will attend classes in school, while the remaining levels will be on home-based learning, based on the earlier announced weekly rotation schedule.

Graduating cohorts of Primary 6 and Secondary 4 and 5 attend classes in schools from Mondays to Fridays.

The rest rotate weekly between learning in school and learning at home.

Last week, those in Primary 4 and 5 as well as those in Secondary 1 and 2 returned to school. They will be doing home-based learning (HBL) this week.

The ministry noted that some of the students on LOA have registered for the Mother Tongue Language (MTL) examinations on June 18.

As their LOA ends on June 17, they can still take the examination, it said, adding that the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board will apply special consideration during grading for these students. The students can also opt to take the year-end MTL examinations instead.

In its statement, MOE said the schools have implemented a set of comprehensive safe management measures to bring students back in a careful and safe manner.

“Nevertheless, it is extremely important that each of us exercises personal responsibility. We would like to remind all parents, staff and students that if a student or any family member is unwell, the student should not go to school,” it said.

The ministry also gave the assurance that while it expects to see such confirmed cases from time to time, those at risk of being infected will be quickly isolated to prevent the virus from spreading and allow schools to continue.

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