Towards COVID-19 Resilient Preschools
12 Oct 2021
Dear Parents/ Guardians,
TOWARDS COVID-19 RESILIENT PRESCHOOLS
The past two years have been a long campaign against COVID-19. We deeply thank everyone for journeying together with us to keep our children and staff in preschools safe while managing the disruption to families. As knowledge of COVID-19 grows and the virus evolves, Singapore’s response to COVID-19 is changing to deal with a virus that is now highly infectious but mild for most people. Data shows that most vaccinated persons who catch the virus have only mild or no symptoms. Children aged 12 and below also generally have mild or no symptoms, even though they are unvaccinated.
2 The Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has accordingly announced on Saturday, 9 October 2021 revised health protocols for positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts of confirmed cases, effective from 11 October 2021. A key change is to reserve the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing mainly for individuals who feel unwell and have symptoms1. Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) will be used more widely for people who are well, such as for community testing and for the management of close contacts of COVID-19 cases, so that we can detect infections faster and take steps to self-isolate early to protect ourselves and those around us. Please see the MTF press release for details: https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/protecting-the-vulnerable-securing-our-future
1Mild symptoms: Fever, cough, fatigue, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting; Severe symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement.
Updated health protocols for preschool children
3 In line with MTF’s direction, we have updated the health protocols for preschool children who are confirmed COVID-19 cases and close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases (please see Annex). These changes are primarily to align with national requirements for children tested positive (via PCR or ART), and allow children who are contacts of positive cases to return to preschool if they test ART negative each day before entering the preschool during the relevant periods. Notwithstanding this, we encourage parents to keep their children who are contacts of positive cases at home, if they can. If a child is unable to take the ART, he/she will be placed on Leave of Absence for the relevant period. These revised protocols will take effect from 11 October 2021.
4 We recognise that some parents may be anxious about these new protocols but we seek your understanding that adjustments are needed for all of us to live with COVID-19. Data shows that young children generally have mild or no symptoms, even though they are unvaccinated. Our earlier measures such as closing classes or the whole preschool whenever there is a confirmed case will increasingly be less sustainable for the long haul, given the disruptions for working families and the impact of our children’s learning and development.
Transitional arrangements for those currently on Quarantine Order or Leave of Absence
5 For those already issued Quarantine Orders (QO) or Leave of Absence (LOA) under the previous health protocols, we need to make some transitional arrangements. The revised health protocols will start from 11 October 2021. Please see below:
Safe management measures remain in place
6 To ensure that preschools remain a safe environment for children and staff, preschools will continue to be vigilant and adhere to the strict safe management measures (SMMs) in line with the COVID-Safe ABCs (i.e. Safe Access, Safe Behaviours and Safe Classrooms). These include stepped up health screening (up to three times a day), ensuring good personal hygiene practices among children and staff, maintaining high environmental hygiene standards, ensuring that children interact only within their respective cohorts and restricting visitors.
Vaccination and testing
7 To complement strict SMMs, vaccination and testing are two key enablers to living with COVID-19 in our preschools. Close to 97% of preschool staff are already vaccinated or have taken their first dose so far. We will continue to encourage staff, who are medically eligible, but have yet to be vaccinated, to do so to better protect themselves, their loved ones, and the children under their care. Vaccines for children under 12 years are expected to start early next year after trials are completed and regulatory approval is given.
8 Beyond vaccination, regular testing using ART provides a fast, added form of surveillance so that COVID-19 infections can be detected earlier and ring-fenced quickly. From 1 October 2021, all vaccinated staff and personnel (e.g. supplementary programme providers) in preschools have started to undergo regular ART once a week. Unvaccinated staff and personnel, including those who are medically ineligible, are tested twice a week.
Personal responsibility and self-management
9 To ensure a safer community for all, it is important that we all exercise personal responsibility to monitor our own health and the health of our children and family members closely, and self-test if needed. If a child or household member is unwell and tests positive, consult a doctor immediately.
10 As the majority of infections for children so far have been from household members and the community, parents and caregivers play a critical role in keeping the children safe. Parents should:
☑ Inform your child’s preschool immediately if your child or any household member:
- Has tested positive for COVID-19
- Has been issued with Health Risk Warning
- Has been issued with Stay-Home Notice
Monitor your child’s health regularly and look out for symptoms such as fever (e.g. body temperature more than 37.5°C) and/or respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough and breathlessness.
☑ Keep your child at home if your child is unwell, especially those with underlying conditions2, and see a doctor immediately. Please do not self-medicate. Inform your preschool if your child is unwell and only send your child back when your child’s medical leave period is over, and your child has fully recovered. This is to protect the health and wellbeing of other children and staff in the preschool.
☑ Encourage your child (aged 2 years and older) to wear a mask or face shield for their protection and in the interest of other children/ staff. We understand that some children may have difficulties wearing a mask, for example, children with special needs and younger children. Face shields may be used as an alternative and preschools will exercise flexibility for these children.
11 Let’s continue working together and take the necessary precautions to keep preschools safe and enable our children to learn and thrive. We will continue to review and adjust the measures in line with the national posture for the health and well-being of everyone in the preschool. For more information on safe management measures in your child’s preschool, please contact your child’s preschool principal.
2This refers to underlying medical conditions which include congenital heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic neurologic disease, active cancer, immunosuppression, diabetes, genetic metabolic disease and blood disorders (e.g. severe anaemia/thalassemia).
Early Childhood Development Agency
Health Protocols for Preschool Children