Ahead of the reopening of preschools on 2 June 2020, all preschools and Early Intervention staff are undergoing a one-time swab test. The tests commenced on 15 May 2020 and are scheduled to complete by end-May 2020. We are now midway through the mass testing exercise.
2 During this proactive testing of all staff, it is expected that some positive cases will be identified. Testing would enable staff who are affected to get the care early, so that we can better prepare for the safe return of children and staff to preschools. ECDA would like to thank colleagues in the preschool sector for understanding this and coming forward. To-date, 7* preschool staff have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 infection, and about 15,300 (or more than 99% of all preschool staff who have undergone testing so far) have tested negative.
3 As a precautionary measure, ECDA has required preschools to issue a 14-day Leave of Absence for all children and staff who were recently in the preschools at the same time as the preschool staff who had tested positive. This is a small number of children and staff, as preschools are currently providing only Limited Services. Contact tracing by the Ministry of Health (MOH) is ongoing. Close contacts will then be placed on Quarantine Order by MOH. All parents and staff of the relevant preschools are promptly notified whenever there is a confirmed case.
4 For the positive cases that have been identified so far, we seek the public’s understanding towards the preschools and staff involved. As infections can be very mild or asymptomatic (i.e. no visible symptoms), the preschool staff may not be aware that they were unwell. The test thus is useful to identify asymptomatic and mild cases ahead of preschool reopening.
5 Even with this proactive testing exercise, new COVID-19 cases may arise and we must continue to stay vigilant through stringent safe management requirements in preschools. This includes a mindset of vigilance among preschool staff, parents and children. Preschool staff, like many Singaporeans, take pride in a strong work ethic and often worry that taking medical leave may burden other colleagues. Similarly, parents who have work commitments may want to send their children to preschool even when they exhibit mild symptoms. To achieve this mindset of vigilance that can keep preschools safe for all, we urge all staff, parents and children to prioritise taking care of themselves and seek medical attention even if mildly unwell.
6 As we prepare for resumption of general services from 2 June, preschools are required to adhere to enhanced safe management measures put out on 19 May 2020 under the “COVID-Safe ABCs” – COVID-Safe Access, COVID-Safe Behaviours, and COVID-Safe Classrooms. To make these COVID-Safe ABCs a priority in the everyday routine of staff, parents and children, ECDA will work with preschools and Early Intervention centres to dedicate the first two weeks of reopening to strengthening public health awareness and building a culture of COVID-Safe habits among staff, children and their parents.
7 The testing for the remaining preschool staff is ongoing. ECDA is monitoring the situation closely and will work with the management, staff, parents and children at the preschools to ensure the safety and well-being of all.
* Includes 2 confirmed cases that are included in MOH’s case count today.