School's out from today till the end of the month.
That's three weeks of rest and relaxation for the
March, students found themselves stuck at home for
two weeks only a few days after they had returned to
school after their one-week Term One holidays. The
new school term was effectively shortened by two
weeks because of the SARS outbreak then.
the Ministry of Education has not taken back the two
weeks of lost curriculum time. Instead, it has
trimmed the June Holidays by a week from four weeks
to three weeks. That's why the school hols start
today, instead of a week ago.
have had to make do with the shortened curriculum
time to prepare their students for the Mid-Year
Exams. Primary students got their report cards last
week, but secondary school students will only get
theirs when school reopens on 30 June 2003.
may have been taken out of the list of SARS-affected
countries, but the MOE certainly isn't resting on
its laurels. It is discouraging - and rightly so -
students' travel to SARS-affected countries during
the June holidays. But it relented on the
requirement for foreign students travelling only to
non-SARS affected countries to place a $1,000
foreign students in national schools and the
Institute of Technical Education will only need to
re-apply for a new Student Pass once, to facilitate
the signing of an undertaking by their local
sponsors to assume full responsibility for their
wards. Students in polytechnics and universities do
not need to re-apply for Student Passes at all.
stance certainly isn't harsh. It is well-meaning.
Remember, when it took the soft approach in March,
parents of some students took their wards overseas
for holidays during the two-week extended holiday
period when these students were supposed to stay
home to help contain the SARS outbreak. In late
April, a foreign student and his mother who returned
from Jakarta were admitted to TTSH and diagnosed as
probable SARS cases.
takes one ignorant parent to undo the good work of
so many others. That's why over the past few days,
students have had to complete forms declaring their
intentions of travelling overseas. We can only hope
that parents will be honest enough to declare their
overseas holiday arrangements. But, if some of them
are not, we may not need to worry, for I am sure
there are records kept of departures at immigration
checkpoints and hopefully these records will be used
to ferret out the dishonest among them. SARS is no
laughing matter - lives are at stake here - and it
is only right that we ignore privacy concerns for
the greater good.
as the GCE O & A Level Mother Tongue Language
Exams take place across the island, we can expect
stringent procedures in place to protect our
coming back for remedials will have to reach school
by 7am for temperature checks before they can attend
class. This early-hour procedure is to facilitate
daily reporting to MOE by a certain time. Those
participating in camps will have to take their
temperatures before they sleep and after they wake
up. Students who feel like walking into their school
will find themselves stopped at the entrance and
asked to take their temperatures and given COOL
labels before being allowed in.
are trying times. In my 45 years on this earth, this
is the first time I have seen people walking around
in the streets wearing masks. We must continue to be
vigilant against any possible occurrence of SARS
cases. Are the procedures cumbersome? I think we
should ask ourselves whether we want SARS to hit us