In the latter months of 2020, Singapore was among the very few countries that began opening schools for in-person learning. Schools in other countries have remained physically closed and relied on remote learning.
The education sector is among the most hard-hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the early days of the pandemic, it was downright impossible to ask children and young adults to continue going to school and risking their health safety. But, unlike other countries, Singapore has taken necessary steps to ensure that the education system remains strong.
The ultimate goal is that no child would be left behind. For example, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has committed to providing laptops or tablets for each secondary student by 2021. This initiative has been in motion even before the pandemic started. Instead, it was accelerated to 2021 instead of 2028. Another helpful initiative was the Student Learning Space (SLS). It’s an online portal that allows teachers to share resources with students and fellow teachers.
Singapore has strong initiatives to help remote learning become stable and successful. But the government has taken it a step further by opening schools for in-person learning. International students in open high schools or secondary schools can now enjoy the school and country they visit instead of relying on online learning. In fact, Singapore saw a rise in enrollment rates of international students as early as September 2020.
Now that more schools are opening for in-person learning, here’s how we can secure its success through health safety.
Consider All Options First
In-person learning has many benefits that remote learning does not have. It’s much more manageable to keep students engaged. They are more able to voice out their questions and concerns over topics that confuse them. And in-person learning gives a more hands-on experience for them. It’s much easier to learn practical skills.
But no one can deny the level of health safety that remote learning offers. Because students are not personally engaging with their teachers or fellow students, they significantly lower the risks of contracting the coronavirus.
There are also many cases of blended learning for Singaporean students. This way, they get to enjoy the balance of in-person learning and remote learning.
So the most important thing that teachers, parents, and students must do before they start with in-person learning is properly considering all of their options first. This way, they will determine what is truly best for the students and their health safety.
Access to Technological Resources
The next thing that teachers, parents, and students should consider is the importance of technological resources, even if they’re participating in in-person learning. This is because, while at school, students don’t just stay in classrooms. They also frequent other communal spaces such as cafeterias and libraries. It’s much harder to limit their time in cafeterias. But, in libraries, it’s more possible if they have access to digital learning resources.
Teachers must provide digital copies of the reading materials used in class and other supplemental resources to learn. This way, they will have access to resources without risking spending much time in public spaces such as libraries.
Staying in Groups
In Singaporean schools now, it’s common for teachers and school administrators to enforce rules about students strictly staying in groups. The reasoning behind this is that they will still sustain social interaction while lowering the risks of spreading the coronavirus.
This rule is very much important for students in secondary schools. This is because, as teenagers, they are more inclined to be social butterflies. They are more open to interacting more with fellow students. So, as teachers, parents, and school staff, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they fully understand the importance of staying in cohorts.
Maintaining Protection and Hygiene
Now that it’s a year since the coronavirus outbreak, we are used to the importance of wearing personal protection equipment and maintaining hygiene through hand-washing. So it’s not at all surprising that schools in Singapore are also strictly enforcing a rule on wearing masks at all times on school grounds.
So it’s our job to ensure that the students are always enforcing this rule. Students in secondary schools are almost young adults. Thus, we don’t need to watch them like a hawk to ensure that they’re always properly washing their hands. But it definitely won’t hurt to keep on reminding them.
Now that COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed all over the country, it’s really only a matter of time before the coronavirus is eradicated, and all schools will offer in-person learning again. But until that time comes, schools that do offer this setup should always remember the proper measures to ensure students’ health and safety.