Dear parents,

To ensure that we can welcome our students back to our centres safely, we have been in close contact with the Ministry of Education (MOE). In our last update, we shared with you the safety measures that we have to implement for phase 2 reopening. Besides the safety of our students, we are also concerned about their upcoming national examinations. As such, we have asked MOE for their inputs and I’m glad to share with you their replies.

Q: What will happen if there were to be a confirmed case of covid-19 in our centre?

A: If any of your staff or student was tested positive for Covid-19, he/she should be isolated and the people he/she has been in close contact with should be tested too (emphasis is ours). MOH will follow up with him/her and the others who are at the centre. Your centre has to put in place of all the necessary Safe Management Measures (SMM) and to conduct an additional round of thorough cleaning and disinfection of premises.

Comment:
From the reply, it seems highly likely that the students from the same class will be issued Leave of Absence (LOA) for 14 days. This was what happened to the recent five cases in schools when schools reopened two weeks ago. It is not sure if and how the students or staff will be tested.

Q: What will happen to the students who were issued LOA and the students have to miss some “O” or “A” level examination? It is highly likely that they will miss a few papers. Will there be arrangements for them to retake the examinations?

A: For students who have missed the written examinations, schools can apply for special consideration with the Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) for these students.

Comment:
This reply is far from reassuring. What does it mean by “special consideration”? It is highly unlikely that the “O” and “A” level examination dates will be changed. As of now, there is no indication that there will be a separate examination for students who missed the examination due to LOA. Even if there are plans to conduct a separate examination, how many such separate examinations will there be since different students will end their LOA on different dates? It seems like there is no firm answer to this question as of now.

If we were to take the example of the stolen “A” level chemistry paper in the UK as precedent, affected students may have two choices: (1) take the projected result or (2) retake another paper in April the following year.

What next?
From the information we gathered from MOE, it will be very stressful and disruptive to students should they be placed under LOA, especially the graduating cohort. Imagine a student scheduled to take his “A” level paper next week but is handed a 14-day LOA today. He will miss a few of his papers, cannot go to school for consultation and cannot even attend any tuition classes in the lead up to the “A” level exams. It will be devastating for the student.

In view of this, we want to do all that we can to minimize the risk to our graduating cohort. Even though we want to resume our face-to-face classes as soon as possible, we want to do it safely and responsibly.

  1. We will monitor the number of community cases for the next two weeks. If the number of community cases remains stable and low, we will start to have students coming back to our centres for classes in the middle of July.
  2. Students and parents will have a choice of attending the class online or onsite. The lesson will be streamed live to the students who chose to be at home while some other students can be onsite. Students attending it online will be able to ask questions and submit classwork using Teams and Class Notebook just like what we are doing now. We believe that keeping this online option available is important. In the event a student is placed under LOA, he can still attend our classes virtually.
    However, do note that this arrangement will not be possible for some classes. We will update those classes separately. A few classes will have to choose between 100% online or 100% onsite.

Lastly, we would like to thank you for your understanding and support during this challenging time. Thank you for your time in helping us with the survey. Some of the results are rather surprising.

  • About 85% of parents feel that our virtual classes are effective, out of which 38% feels that the student learnt more with virtual classes.
  • Only 28% of parents want to go back to centre-based classes.
  • Close to 80% of students like Microsoft Teams and Class Notebook compared to Zoom and WhatsApp.
  • 88% of students feel that our virtual classes are effective.
  • Only 16% of students want to go back to centre-based classes.

You can view the detailed survey results here:

Student’s survey results.

Parent’s survey results.

Thank you and take care,
Gary and Eileen,
Founders, tutors, parents too.