It’s school re-opening season in Singapore, just as it is in many parts of the world. After months of school closures due to the Covid pandemic, students around the world have slowly been getting back to school and in-class learning.
In Singapore, students have been returning to school from 2 June, with graduating cohorts in Singapore local schools attending school daily and the rest of the primary and secondary students alternating with in-class learning and home-based learning every week.
According to UNESCO, almost 90% of the global student population have been affected with school closures world-wide. Ministries of Education around the world are still grappling with when and how to re-open schools. While some international schools in Singapore have extended their e-learning and home-based learning programmes, schools like OWIS have made a strategic decision to re-open and welcome students back to school from 3 June 2020.
As per Singapore’s Phase 1 rules of school re-opening (until 30 June 2020), OWIS is allowed to have 50% of students on campus at any point of time. Therefore, we are adopting an alternate week approach with half of the students across Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary school coming to the campus one week and staying home for a full e-learning programme the following week. We have made an exception for our Grade 10 and 11 students who are allowed to come into school daily.
For those students who do not prefer to come into school during their in-school learning week in Phase 1, OWIS is providing a Home-based learning programme.
Here’s a look at how OWIS students will be in school in June on a rotational basis:
Many operational considerations, precautions and safety measures have gone into OWIS’s back-to-school planning strategy to ensure children can come back to school safely, meet their teachers and friends and continue with the excitement of learning in-school alongside their peers.
Safety measures at OWIS
While safety of their children is an on-going concern for parents, they can rest assured that OWIS is following all the required guidelines and additional safe-distancing and hygiene measures, including but not limited to:
- Staggered drop off and pick-up timings, according to grade levels
- Safe-distancing arrangements in the school bus: except siblings, students will not be seated next to each other
- Twice daily temperature taking of staff and students
- Face masks or face shields for everyone on campus
- Safe-distancing arrangements in all classrooms, including specialist lessons, by rearranging of furniture and seating arrangements for students to maintain 1m distance
- Altered play and activity routines to ensure safe distancing
- Frequent reminders to students to maintain personal hygiene (washing hands, not touching the face or shield/mask, maintaining cleanliness of personal space etc.)
- Disinfecting of common facilities if different sets of students need to use the same facility consecutively
- Disinfection of all classrooms at the end of the day
- More frequent cleaning and disinfection of commonly used facilities such as wash-rooms and surfaces like doorknobs and railings
- Safe distancing in the canteen through staggered timings and marking of chairs in the canteen where students are not allowed to sit; all Early childhood students and some of the primary students will be eating in their own classrooms
- Use of Safe Entry for all staff, students and visitors to ensure faster contact tracing
OWIS has also invested a significant amount in procuring the following items to keep our students and staff safe:
- Thermal scanners, which help in efficient taking of temperatures and also reduce human contact, compared to hand-held scanners.
- Desk separators, to ensure that students keep a safe distance from each other
- Disinfectant misters, to disinfect classrooms thoroughly, in addition to manual disinfection methods
- Face-shields for all our teachers and for all students under the age of 12
Our Early Childhood staff have all been tested for Covid-19 as per government regulations and our EC area is off-limits for everyone except the EC students and staff.
While the physical safety and well-being of our students is important, it is equally important for us to help our students settle into their new routines and become comfortable with all the necessary precautions and measures taken. Teachers are prepared to guide children and reassure them, especially the younger ones, as needed.
Our teachers will spend time explaining to students the reasons behind the new social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks and face shields to ensure everyone’s safety. This will help our students become more familiar with their new arrangements and routines and also help them understand the need for these measures and why it is important to adhere to them.
Even though students may not be able to interact physically with their peers, they will still be able to see them face-to-face, socialise, empathise and bond with each other, while keeping a safe physical distance from each other. This is as important to a student’s health, emotional and mental well-being as their academic work and physical well-being.
At OWIS, we believe that by re-opening our school and welcoming back our students, we are bringing back a sense of normality, belonging and connection to our students.
If you’d like to know more on how we foster a shared sense of belonging, caring and life-long learning in our students, do get in touch with us or register for a virtual school tour.