Wearing masks and daily temperature-taking are compulsory while timings for breaks and dismissal are staggered.
Singaporean students began returning to school to resume face-to-face lessons on campus today (Jun 2).
The last time students were in school was on Apr 7, a day before shifting to full home-based learning (HBL), which started on Apr 8 this year. This was followed by the school holidays being brought forward to start on May 5. As such, students were away from school grounds for almost two months.
Although schools have reopened, only the graduating cohorts of Primary 6 and Secondary 4 and 5 will have daily lessons in class. Other cohorts will alternate weekly between HBL and classes on campus.
Youth.SG spoke to a few students from different institutions about their first day back in school after the circuit breaker.
Catching up with friends after the circuit breaker
By resuming physical lessons, students are among the Singaporeans to see their friends after a long time of staying home.
Secondary 4 student Shaista Daneen said: “I feel happy that I can finally see my friends after not being able to physically catch up with them for two months.”
Apart from reuniting with friends, the East Spring Secondary School student also looked forward to lessons in the classroom.
“I’ve been finding it hard to have productive days at home, so being at school today helped a lot,” she said.
Another Secondary 4 student, Idhant Dhaul, also shared his excitement about starting school again.
“After spending so much time trapped at home and speaking to the same few people, I’m glad that I can finally have a conversation with people I’m not related to and share what I did at home,” he said.
While both of them feel excited about the aspect of social interaction, Idhant worries about another change in study environment after getting used to his HBL routine.
“I fear that because I have gotten so comfortable with studying from home, having face-to-face lessons may not be the ideal place for final revision before my ‘O’ levels,” the Tanjong Katong Secondary School student said.
The change in learning environments isn’t the only thing students will have to adapt to.
Tighter measures to ensure health of students and staff
To ensure students and staff are not sick, those who are returning to school undergo daily temperature-taking and wear masks at all times, except during physical education lessons.
Wearing a mask all day proved to be uncomfortable for 17-year-old Zeean Tay in the humid weather. The Temasek Junior College student said: “As there’s a limited number of fans and the air-conditioning is turned off in many of the classrooms. It’s extremely hot and stuffy, making it a really uncomfortable environment to study in.”
In addition to making masks compulsory, schools have also adopted fixed, exam-style classroom seating plans as well as staggered arrival, recess and dismissal timings to reduce intermingling among students.
“During breaks, we’re advised to buy food from the canteen and bring it back to our own classrooms so we don’t have to sit and mix with students from other classes,” said 18-year-old Siti Nurfaizah.
Despite the advisory, the Victoria Junior College student managed to eat in her school canteen as there were few people around.
“Only three people are allowed at each canteen table to practise social distancing,” she added.
Keeping up with alternating timetables for HBL and physical classes
Like primary and secondary schools, Junior Colleges and Millennia Institute have also arranged for non-graduating students to alternate between face-to-face lessons and HBL so only half of their student body is on campus at any one time.
16-year-old Sanjana Sanjay Samnani is one of the students who will be continuing with HBL for this week.
“I don’t mind continuing HBL as I know I will be safe at home, can have normal meal times and wear comfortable attire,” said the Temasek Junior College student.
Although Sanjana feels safe staying home, she expressed concerns about having to alternate between her stay-home and school schedules.
“There’s different timetables for HBL and physical classes, so deadlines can get mixed up. There’s no fixed way to hand up homework. Sometimes it’s online and other times we have to submit in-person depending on the week.
“I think that can get really confusing. It might not be a conducive way to study as there’s no consistency,” expressed the J1 student.
Despite this, Sanjana looks forward to going back to school next week and catching up with her friends in class.
“I don’t have worries about the virus spreading within school as they have taken the appropriate safety measures based on rules by the government. I look forward to seeing my friends, teachers and interacting with people,” she said.
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