'Currently no plans' to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for primary school, pre-school attendance: Chan Chun Sing
SINGAPORE: There are “currently no plans” to make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for physical attendance in pre-schools or primary schools, said Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Jan 10).
Responding to parliamentary questions about vaccination-differentiated safe management measures for children, Mr Chan said: “The focus at this time is to ensure our children are well-protected against COVID-19 as we begin vaccination for those aged five to 11 years.”
The Government has seen an “encouraging start” to the vaccination exercise for children, and will continue to work with parents to achieve a high vaccination rate so that as many school activities as possible can resume, he added.
“The pace, extent and approach towards resuming these school activities would depend on various factors, including vaccination rates as well as the overall national posture.”
Speaking in Parliament, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also said that there are “presently no plans” to introduce vaccination-differentiated safe management measures for children aged 12 and below in the community, and public, pre-school and school settings.
“This is due to a combination of reasons, namely, children are less likely to develop severe illnesses when infected, and we want to preserve as much as possible universal access to holistic education for children,” he added.
While Singapore has a “strict” system for vaccination-differentiated safe management measures in place, the rules are “much less strict” for children, said the Health Minister.
Responding to a supplementary question from Member of Parliament Darryl David (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) on whether there will be vaccination-differentiated measures for activities beyond school, Mr Chan said that all measures will take the “prevailing national posture” into account.
“We would very much like to have all our children be able to attend school and participate in as many of the core activities as much as possible. Now having said that, of course there are also activities beyond the core curriculum that may pose a higher risk to our students,” he added.
“And for those higher-risk activities, we will then have to consider if differentiated measures will be required.”
Additional measures are currently in place for some activities at the secondary school, junior college or Millennia Institute level, said the Education Minister.
Under the pilot for team sports activities, only fully vaccinated students who have taken an onsite antigen rapid test will be allowed to participate in team sports in groups of up to 10, he said.
Students who participate in the band or the choir also have to take “some other additional measures” to keep themselves and fellow students safe, said Mr Chan.
“So this is how we will go about considering the participation of our students in some of these particularly higher-risk activities in the sense that they have a higher risk of transmission.
“But as far as possible, we would like to have our students participate in the core curriculum all together because this adds to their overall social-emotional development beyond their academic development.”