19 March 2020

Dear Parents / Guardians

Keeping Our Children in Preschools Safe Against COVID-19: 14-day Leave of Absence for Preschool Staff and Children Returning from All Overseas Travel

In response to the COVID-19 situation, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has been steadily putting in place a series of precautionary measures for the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in preschools. These precautionary measures have to be continually reviewed and adjusted depending on the rapidly evolving situation. Prior to the start of the March school holidays, the Ministry of Health (MOH) had advised Singaporeans to review their travel plans and refrain from non- essential travel overseas.

2 In recent days, there has been a significant rise in the proportion of imported COVID-19 cases, especially from returning Singapore residents who were infected during their time overseas. MOH therefore announced on 18 March that a 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) will be issued to returning Singapore Residents, Long Term Pass holders and short term visitors who enter Singapore from all countries from 20 March 11.59pm.

3 In addition, as some have travelled overseas during the March school holidays, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social and Family Development and ECDA have decided that it would be necessary to implement additional precautionary measures for preschools, schools and student care centres. Hence, preschools will issue a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) for all staff and children who have been out of Singapore (regardless of country visited, or mode of entry back into Singapore) and returned on or after 14 March 20201. The date of return to Singapore would be considered Day 0. The preschool staff or child may then return to the preschool on Day 15. This includes staff or children who recently returned to Malaysia by land or sea.

4 This means that affected staff and children must stay away from preschool for the duration of their SHN or LOA2. This will take effect from 20 March 2020. This would better ensure our schools, preschools and student care centres remain a safe environment for our students and staff.

5 We understand that this new measure will cause inconvenience for families. We seek your understanding and cooperation to comply with the LOA to help safeguard the safety and wellbeing of the over 200,000 children and staff in preschools. The Ministry of Manpower had earlier issued an advisory encouraging all employers to be supportive of their employees’ needs if an employee needs to stay at home for non-work related reasons relating to the COVID-19 situation, e.g. take care of children who are unable to report to school or preschool. Please refer to MOM’s advisory for more details: https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/advisory-for-employers-and-employees-travelling-to-and-from-affected-areas

6 In addition, we recognise that some families and children may be affected due to the COVID-19 situation and have concerns about meeting the requirement for at least 1-day attendance in a month in order to qualify for preschool subsidies. To better support families during this period, ECDA is prepared to exercise flexibility to waive this 1-day subsidy requirement for affected families and children for the month of March 2020. This applies to both Infant/Child Care Subsidy and Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS). Parents may approach their preschools to apply for this waiver.

7 Let us continue to work together to protect the well-being of all children and staff of our preschool community.

1 Preschools to grant 14-day LOA to staff/ child if SHN has not been issued by ICA upon return to Singapore.

2 This includes staff and children who returned to Singapore on or after 14 March 2020, and went back to preschool for work/ school prior to 20 March 2020 (e.g. 18 March 2020). Preschools will still issue a LOA to this group from 20 March 2020. The date of return to Singapore would be considered Day 0.

Thank you.

Early Childhood Development Agency

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