SINGAPORE: Some COVID-19 cases are expected in pre-schools as Singapore moves towards living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease and resumes more activities in the community, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Monday (Aug 16).
International data so far has shown that COVID-19 is less severe in children compared to older adults and the elderly.
“While we have been fortunate that in Singapore, we have so far observed mild disease for our children who have been infected, we are mindful that a child with underlying conditions may become severely ill when infected and we must remain vigilant,” MSF said.
“Our priority is to be able to detect cases and ringfence close contacts of the affected persons quickly to prevent widespread transmission within pre-schools," it added.
“Similar to the Ministry of Education, we are adopting a more targeted approach in our ringfencing, where possible, in the event of a confirmed case to minimise disruptions to children and families.”
A pre-school in Chinatown was among the new COVID-19 clusters identified last week, which has grown to include 15 cases as of Monday. All children and employees at the pre-school will be swabbed.
RESUMPTION OF ACTIVITIES IN PRE-SCHOOLS
From Aug 19, pre-schools will be allowed to resume more activities in a “cautious and calibrated manner”, said MSF.
Parents of newly enrolled children will be allowed into the pre-schools, limited to one parent in a class on any given day, but parents must be vaccinated or take an antigen rapid test (ART) before entering.
Vaccinated individuals from external agencies providing development support and learning support, as well as focused language assistance in reading will be allowed to serve up to four pre-schools.
“We recognise supplementary programmes serving children with additional needs are especially important to the child’s developments,” MSF said.
“To ensure continued support to children with higher developmental needs, vaccinated persons providing DS-Plus may serve multiple pre-schools, subject to strict safe management measures," the ministry added, referring to programmes for children with developmental needs.
Pre-schools were already allowed to resume outdoor activities in public spaces nearby since Aug 10, in small groups of up to five children.
Safe management measures will also remain in place, said MSF. This includes increased temperature checks, ensuring good personal hygiene among students and staff, ensuring children only interact within their classes and restricting visitors.
VACCINATION, TESTING FOR PRE-SCHOOL STAFF
The majority of pre-school employees are already fully vaccinated or have taken their first dose, MSF noted.
Unvaccinated staff members will have to undergo ART twice a week from Oct 1. "For the small group of preschool staff that remains medically ineligible for vaccines, the Government will subsidise their tests," said MSF.
For external parties providing higher-risk, mask-off activities such as wind instrument classes, they have been required since Jul 15 to be on a regular Fast and Easy Testing regime every 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
MSF reminded parents to seek medical attention “promptly” if their child is unwell and to keep children at home if there are household members who are unwell.
It added that authorities will “continue to review the testing regime and precautionary measures in pre-schools so that the children can continue to learn and play in a safe environment”.