Pre-schools step up hygiene, implement travel declaration measures
Parents who dropped off their kids at the My First Skool pre-school in Buangkok Crescent yesterday morning were greeted by staff wearing surgical masks and wielding thermometers and bottles of hand sanitiser.
Over the Chinese New Year weekend, parents were asked to declare their travel plans and whether they had visited China in the past two weeks, amid rising concern over the Wuhan virus outbreak.
Those who did not submit a declaration online were asked to fill in a form on the spot.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who visited the centre yesterday, said these measures are to ensure the well-being of children and pre-school staff.
He noted that a 14-day leave of absence had been announced for children and pre-school staff who visited China in the past two weeks.
There are about 1,900 pre-school centres in Singapore, employing about 25,000 teaching and programme staff. Early estimates indicate that about 600 employees will be affected.
Of the 180,000 pre-schoolers, about 1,000 will be affected.
"This is a stepped-up precautionary measure because in pre-schools and other social facilities, we have more vulnerable communities like young children, elderly persons with disabilities and so on," said Mr Lee.
There are more than 140 My First Skool pre-school centres, run by NTUC First Campus.
First Skool general manager Thian Ai Ling said about 2 per cent of staff across the centres will be taking leave of absence, adding that "manpower crunch is not an issue".
She said: "Usually, we have additional staff with us... who provide a layer of support for all our centres for situations where there is staff on long hospitalisation leave or medical leave. So we are not unduly concerned at this point."
Mr Lee Tai Yun, 31, a data analyst who dropped his daughter off yesterday, said pre-school centres are a "volatile environment" with many kids in close proximity to each other.
"So there are safeguards in place like cleaning hands and feet, and temperature-taking. But I think these added precautions in a time like this will reassure and build confidence in parents," he said.