10 commonly asked questions by parents about the MOE-OBS challenge
The two-day non-residential programme will see students partaking in land or sea expeditions.
Ahead of the resumption of the Ministry of Education (MOE) – Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) Challenge Programme, a Zoom webinar was held on Tuesday (Apr 12) by OBS to brief parents and address their concerns.
The course is for Secondary three students and meant to develop them holistically while building up their resilience and ruggedness.
Students will be assigned to various OBS campuses located in Punggol, East Coast, Changi and Pulau Ubin. The two-day course is non-residential and will last from 8.30am to 5pm each day.
With the ongoing pandemic situation, some parents were concerned with the happenings of the programme. As such, the webinar provided a platform for them to raise their questions.
Here are some of the commonly-asked questions by parents and the responses from both OBS and MOE representatives.
How is safety ensured during activities?
Each group is assigned to an OBS instructor who has passed a rigorous selection process and undergone six to eight months of training that includes safety and supervision, facilitation skills, outdoor leadership as well as incident management.
The instructor is committed to supervise safety and facilitate learning of the group through the entire duration of the course.
Instructors are certified in skills such as wilderness first aid, facilitation, ropes course management, lifesaving, terrain navigation, sea sports and powerboat driving licence.
In a medical situation, they are competent to assess, treat and stabilise the injury or illness.
While instructors are not assigned by gender, female participants can approach any female OBS instructor should it be necessary.
What is the level of risk in activities?
Before a programme commences, OBS aims to share as much information with parents and participants and seek known consent from them. Participants are to adhere to guidelines given by OBS staff and instructors to enable a safe and meaningful experience during the programme.
Will there be height activities in OBS?
Height activities are currently suspended. However, land and sea expeditions such as trekking and kayaking will proceed as per normal.
The instructors will ensure that learning objectives are not compromised despite the absence of high elements.
Will students who cannot swim be forced to participate in water activities?
Students will not be forced to participate in any activities. However, a progressive approach will be taken. Instructors will first guide students in a water confidence test conducted at shallow waters before moving on to deeper waters.
In addition, personal flotation devices (PFDs) will be provided for all participants. During sea expeditions, there will also be OBS instructors present who will observe the safety of all participants from motorised boats.
If my child is planning to get a COVID-19 vaccination (primary or booster dose), is there a minimum period to take note of?
It is not compulsory for participants to be vaccinated to attend this programme.
In accordance with MOH’s advisory, there should be a period of two weeks after the COVID-19 vaccination before participating in any strenuous activities.
It would be advised to schedule the vaccination at least two weeks ahead of the OBS course.
What are the steps that OBS will take if a student exhibits Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) symptoms or is a close contact of a student with ARI symptoms?
If participants display any signs or symptoms of an Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), they will be immediately attended to at the OBS Medical Centre by OBS nurses. An Antigen Rapid Test (ART) will be performed.
If they have severe symptoms, they may be referred to a clinic for a higher level of care. If they are well and test positive, they will be sent home to rest and self-isolate in accordance with MOH’s protocols.
For students who are in the same group or have had close contact with the positive case, they will be made to perform an ART test immediately and monitored closely for any symptoms for the remainder of the course.
Participants do not need to bring any ART kits as they will be provided by OBS in the event that testing is required.
If a participant is on a MOH Health Risk Notification during the course, they are required to bring their own ART kits and perform the tests in accordance with MOH’s prevailing policies.
Will students have their masks off for the activities?
Since most of the activities will take place outdoors, it is not compulsory for participants to wear a mask. They will be required to don a mask in sheltered areas according to MOH and MOE guidelines.
Safe distancing will apply when masks are not worn.
Will students miss out on a lot of activities since the programme is now two days rather than five?
While the current duration of the programme cannot be extended due to the pandemic, there will still be adequate activities.
Parents can be assured that the quality and type of activities will remain the same in spite of the shorter duration.
Will activities be cancelled should there be bad weather conditions?
Activities will cease in the event of thunderstorms or when there is a lightning risk. Students will be brought under shelter where alternative activities such as team games and reflection will be conducted with the same learning outcomes in mind.
However, activities will still carry on should there only be light rain and no lightning risk. This is part of resilience building for the participants.
What is the procedure for an emergency evacuation?
OBS instructors are accredited with wilderness first aid skills and trained in incident management.
In a situation where an emergency evacuation is required, they will assess, treat and stabilise the injury immediately.
The OBS Outdoor Nurse Practitioner will also be activated to support evacuation. The Singapore Civil Defence Force will be contacted to convey the participant to the Accident & Emergency department at the hospital.