Following news of the first few cases of local transmission of 2019-nCoV on Tuesday (February 4), the Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced that large group and communal activities such as assemblies, camps and mass celebrations will be suspended from February 5 onwards.

Recess times in schools will be staggered CCAs and after-school programmes may continue, in smaller groups.

These measures are put in place to minimise gatherings of students in large numbers.

How can you make sure that your children are safe when you aren’t with them? You can’t. Given that viruses are usually airborne, it would be highly encouraged to observe the following:

Primary school pupils and MOE kindy attendees should observe a 14-day Leave of Absence if they are in close contact with someone under quarantine.

Healthy persons who have recently returned from Hubei, and those in close contact with a confirmed case would have received a Home Quarantine Order (HQO). If young children are living in the same household, they may be not be so aware of the precautions they need to take to protect themselves when staying with someone on HQO. That’s why MOE will issue LOA to these young children as an additional precautionary measure, to give their fellow students and parents added assurance.

While your children are on LOA, do monitor their temperature and well-being everyday and minimise their time spent in public areas. Remain contactable at all times in case the authorities try to reach you. Stay at home as much as possible. Playdates might have to wait until the 14 days are over.

Don’t send your kids to school if they’re feeling unwell.

As important as education is, it’s still more important to be responsible and careful during this time. If your children are feeling unwell, don’t send them to school and instead visit a clinic as soon as possible to rule out any possible symptoms related to the virus.

Click here for a list of 24-hour clinics near you.

Give your (sick) kids face masks to wear.

On the way to the clinic or when in public areas, do give your kids a face mask to wear. Make sure the masks that you give your children cover both the nose and the mouth, and that they know how to put them on and take them off as needed.

According to medical experts, regular face masks aren’t enough to protect people against the minuscule viral particles of the nCoV. However, sick people usually spread their viruses through large droplets which are dispersed when they sneeze or cough. The surgical masks will help patients keep their droplets to themselves.

Have your kids observe proper hygiene.

Make sure you tell your kids to wash their hands frequently with antibacterial soap, especially after coughing, sneezing, interacting with other people, before eating, and touching or handling objects (such as hand rails, door knobs, handles) that are touched by many people on a regular basis.

Provide your kids with disinfectants.

Make sure your kids have rubbing alcohol or hand sanitisers with them as disinfectants, and that they use them throughout the day when they aren’t able to wash their hands right away.

Check on the hygiene of their schools and tuition centres.

If you are especially worried about how your kids are faring at school, after-school student care centre or tuition centre, you might want to e-mail the management to find out how the facilities are being sanitised during this period. Speak with the principal and teachers about your concerns, as well, to ensure that the matter is being taken seriously. Ask them to give small talks and to post health advisories around the school to serve as reminders as the kids go about their daily routines at school.

Educate your children at home.

It may be difficult to get your kids to do things at school when you are not around, but it could help to talk to them at home about what is happening. Give a short lecture on what the coronavirus is, what the signs and symptoms are, and how to prevent it at school and beyond.

Boost their immunity by feeding them well.

As there is currently no treatment available for 2019-nCoV, a strong immunity is still the only way a patient can fight off the disease. Feed your kids balanced, nutritious meals and add on supplements such as cod liver oil, probiotics, probiotics and vitamins where necessary.

When your kids are with you, refrain from bringing them to crowded public places and mass events. Remember: it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Source: MOE FAQ page

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