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Parents unfazed by rise in Covid-19 cases as schools reopen

Parents of children returning to school on Monday (June 27) after the holidays are not overly worried about the recent increase in Covid-19 cases.

Several of them said they expected more cases to emerge in the community, especially as families had travelled abroad during the month-long break.

But with a large proportion of the student population vaccinated and evidence showing that the severity of cases is not higher than before, the parents feel safe sending their children to school.

Ms Kathleen Goy, a mother of two primary school girls, said: "We will continue to take precautions like mask-wearing... Otherwise, life is pretty much back to normal."

Ms Goy, 41, who works in marketing and events, added: "Getting Covid-19 is normal now. You just have to ride out the seven days."

Said Mr Patrick Loke, 52, who has two daughters, in Primary 5 and Secondary 1: "There may be possibly more cases, but that can't be helped because Singapore is opening up to tourists, business events. We just have to move ahead and not look back.

"I believe the Ministry of Education (MOE) has put in place adequate measures like mask-wearing and safe distancing. Unless there is a variant that causes very serious symptoms, we are not too concerned."

Singapore has seen an uptick in Covid-19 cases driven by the newer BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants, which are more transmissable but have not been linked to higher hospitalisation or death rates.

The parents said learning to live with Covid-19 was the new normal, and fully resuming school activities was the way to go.

Madam Michelle Teo, 44, whose daughters are six and 13 years old, said: "There have been cases in their schools but somehow we have not caught it. Even if we do get it, so be it. It is no longer like before, when getting Covid-19 was so scary."

Said Mrs Vivien Low, 41, a civil servant with two sons, in Primary 1 and Primary 3: "I hope the kids will get to mingle and play in school, like during recess... They are really looking forward to going back to school and seeing their friends."

Parents said they would keep up habits such as hand hygiene and mask-wearing.

MOE's guidelines for Covid-19 cases in schools remain unchanged. A spokesman for the ministry said staff and students who are unwell should self-administer an antigen rapid test (ART) and seek medical attention if needed.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 are to adhere to the Ministry of Health (MOH) protocols, including waiting until their ART results are negative before returning to school.

From April 26, MOH no longer issues health risk notices to close contacts of Covid-19-positive people. But schools will disinfect areas visited by students with Covid-19.

MOE said: "In line with the national posture, there is no longer a need for group size, safe distancing or vaccination requirements for students to participate in school activities."

Measures such as frequent hand-washing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces continue to be in place, it added.

Mr Eddie Foo, principal of West View Primary School, said: "With the recent rise in cases, it is still important to keep up practices like the wipe-down routine and personal hygiene."

He added: "During the holidays, the children may have forgotten these habits, so during the welcome-back assembly on Monday, we will remind them."

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