Starting from May 19, Singapore schools may start bringing students in small groups for face-to-face lessons as the coronavirus 'circuit breaker' measures slowly ease, a Minister said on Saturday.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force tackling COVID-19, said they would focus on the graduating cohorts taking national examinations, reports The Straits Times.

Institutions of higher learning will also allow more students to return to campus for critical consultations and projects.

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Priority for those who need the facility

Wong said that priority will be given to those who need school facilities for coursework and practical sessions, as well as those who need additional support and mediation during school vacation periods.

"It's a small group," he said, adding that this will be done with safe distancing measures and that the students will be kept in separate groups within cohorts.

"We are not opening up the entire school system at all," he stressed.

Singapore has reported 17,548 COVID-19 cases, with 16 deaths.

Earlier on Saturday, the task force announced that the tightened circuit breaker measures will remain in place for another week.

Businesses like barbers, home-based bakers and laundry services will be allowed to resume operating on May 12, while some measures will also be adjusted next week.