Students and staff can return to school once they or their close contacts test negative for Covid-19

SINGAPORE – From Thursday (Aug 19), students and school staff who are close contacts of anyone quarantined as part of Covid-19 measures can return to campus once that person tests negative.

Also, those who have received a health risk warning can return to school once they test negative for Covid-19.

These moves will affect students and staff from primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges and the Millennia Institute, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a letter to parents and guardians on Wednesday.

The letter announced changes to both the leave of absence (LOA) and the approved absence policies. Both are used to limit Covid-19 transmission by having people stay away from school campuses if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Students and staff must now stay home until their LOA is over. There is no fixed length of time for an LOA, as it varies from case to case.

For example, those given an LOA because a family member is under a stay-home notice are required to stay away from campus  for the duration of the notice.

MOE said the change is in line with Singapore’s gradual easing of community safe management measures.

The letter said students and staff will have their LOA removed and will be able to return to school under either of two conditions.

Firstly, if the quarantined person tests negative for Covid-19 in an entry swab test at a government facility.

Or, secondly, if their close contact who is serving a quarantine order at home tests negative for Covid-19.

Ministry of Health (MOH) requirements also allow the quarantined person’s household members to leave home.

Similarly, the rules on approved absence (AA) have changed.

MOE said students who have to be tested for Covid-19, or those who have been sent a Health Risk Warning SMS by MOH, will have to stay home only until they test negative, instead of waiting out the full duration of their AA.

This also applies to students whose family members have to be tested for these reasons.

There is no fixed length of time for an AA, as it also varies from case to case.

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However, there is no change in policy for those placed on AA because they have flu-like symptoms, or those with household members who have flu-like symptoms, MOE added.

Those with flu-like symptoms will continue to be on AA for five days after their medical certificate expires.

Those with a household member who has flu-like symptoms must stay home until that person tests negative for Covid-19.

The full list of conditions that require students and staff to be placed on LOA or AA can be found on the MOE website.

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