COVID-19: Over 15,000 pre-school staff tested negative ahead of reopening

A parent wearing a protective mask carries his child to attend a pre-school in Singapore. (PHOTO: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — More then 99 per cent of all pre-school staff who have undergone COVID-19 testing have been tested negative, as pre-schools prepare to reopen on 2 June.

In a media statement on Saturday (23 May), the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said that since testing for pre-school staff members began on 15 May, about 15,300 have tested negative while seven were confirmed positive for COVID-19 infection.

Testing – which is done with a one-time swab test – is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.

“During this proactive testing of all staff, it is expected that some positive cases will be identified,” ECDA said in the media statement.

“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 pre-schools.”

LOAs, contract tracing and prompt notification

As a precautionary measure, ECDA has required pre-schools to issue a 14-day Leave of Absence for all children and staff who were recently in the pre-schools at the same time as the pre-school staff who had tested positive.

Contact tracing by the Ministry of Health is ongoing, with close contacts to be placed on quarantine order. All parents and staff of the relevant pre-schools are promptly notified whenever there is a confirmed case.

“For the positive cases that have been identified so far, we seek the public’s understanding towards the pre-schools and staff involved,” ECDA said.

“As infections can be very mild or asymptomatic (i.e. no visible symptoms), the pre-school staff may not be aware that they were unwell. The test thus is useful to identify asymptomatic and mild cases ahead of pre-school reopening.”

COVID-Safe ABCs upon reopening

Even with the COVID-19 testing exercise, ECDA said that pre-schools must stay vigilant through “stringent safe management requirements”, as new COVID-10 cases may arise.

Pre-schools are required to stick to enhanced safe management measures upon reopening, under the “COVID-Safe ABCs”: COVID-Safe Access, COVID-Safe Behaviours and COVID-Safe Classrooms.

It will work with pre-schools and early intervention centres to dedicate the first two weeks of re-opening to strengthening public health awareness and building a culture of COVID-Safe habits among staff, children and their parents.

“Pre-school staff, like many Singaporeans, take pride in a strong work ethic and often worry that taking medical leave may burden other colleagues,” it said in the media statement.

“Similarly, parents who have work commitments may want to send their children to pre-school even when they exhibit mild symptoms.

“To achieve this mindset of vigilance that can keep pre-schools safe for all, we urge all staff, parents and children to prioritise taking care of themselves and seek medical attention even if mildly unwell.”

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