With temperatures checked, hand sanitizers and masks fitted at the ready, many children in Singapore returned to schools on Tuesday after the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 lockdown after almost two months.
All over the island, the sound of the rush which is heard in the morning rush hour resumed as the staff at schools urged the students to maintain a proper distance as they gathered to return to the classes.
Schools Reopen in Singapore
With one of the highest coronavirus tallies in Asia, Singapore has said it will ease restrictions gradually, with the registry of marriages and some businesses, including pet salons, also reopening on Tuesday. "You have to restart your normal life at some point," said Harsha Yavagal, who was sending his boys aged five and 12 back to school. "Schools are taking all possible measures to cope with the virus," he said.
Studies in some European countries have shown reopening schools has not led to a rise in coronavirus infections, while other studies have shown fewer cases of the disease among children compared with adults. But Singapore is not taking any chances. At one secondary school, Reuters observed the precision of the "new normal" morning routine.
After a bell, students sang the national anthem through face masks that are required by law. The teacher then asked everyone in the class to put thermometers in their mouths and he went desk-to-desk noting temperatures. The students then cleaned their thermometers with an alcohol wipe and, one-by-one, dropped the wipes in a bin.
Recesses will be staggered and children will have to sit apart at the canteen, the teacher said, then asked students to respond to an online poll via their smartphones about how they felt about returning to school. The results appeared on a screen behind him: more than half said they were happy with a further third "very happy". Singapore has recorded more than 35,000 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths. Most cases have been among migrant workers living in dormitories.
(With agency inputs)