SINGAPORE: Essential service workers are allowed to drop their children off at their grandparents’ home for caregiving arrangements, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Apr 10).
The multi-ministry COVID-19 task force previously said that parents should not send their children to the care of their grandparents on a daily basis during the “circuit breaker” period.
This is to protect vulnerable seniors and prevent the spread of COVID-19 through regular interactions between households.
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However, some parents working in essential services are unable to work from home and need to tap on grandparents for childcare support on a daily basis, MOH said.
Therefore, exemptions will be made for families where both parents are essential service workers and are unable to work from home.
Families will also qualify if one parent is a healthcare professional and is unable to work from home, or if one parent is an essential service worker who is unable to work from home and has a child below the age of three.
“While most parents would be working from home, there would be some households where parents have to continue going to work during this period.
“These are workers in our essential services, especially our healthcare workers who are on the frontline working on shifts and on weekends, when childcare centres may not be available, and may be activated at any time of the day to respond to the COVID-19 situation,” MOH said.
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The ministry added that these parents will face additional difficulties which may be “unnecessarily stressful for these essential service personnel”.
For very young children, MOH said it recognises that it is difficult for them to be away from their parents for long periods of time, and adjusting to new caregivers that they are unfamiliar with would be challenging.
Parents requiring assistance may contact the Early Childhood Development Agency at [email protected] or 6735 9213.
SAFE DISTANCING PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT SENIORS
Families that rely on grandparents for childcare on a daily basis are advised to take safe distancing precautions to protect the elderly.
“Observe personal hygiene and try to reduce interaction time as far as possible when visiting their home. Do not visit when unwell,” said MOH.
The ministry added that the “circuit breaker” period is a difficult adjustment for many families, and these measures “go against the instinct to be close to and to support our loved ones”.
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“But our elderly are most susceptible to severe COVID-19 infection, and we should refrain from exposing them to the risk of COVID-19 as far as possible, by minimising physical interactions with them.”
The task force implemented an elevated set of safe distancing measures from Apr 7 to May 4 in a bid to curb local transmission of COVID-19.
As part of these measures, members of the public are to stay at home, and not go out unnecessarily except to purchase daily necessities, essential services or for urgent medical needs.
Seniors are most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, MOH said. Hence, they should stay at home and minimise interactions with those outside their household.
Individuals can visit the elderly to assist them with their daily needs such as bringing them groceries, food and other essential supplies, but interaction time should be kept to a minimum.
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During this period, parents are encouraged to care for their children within their own households. Employers should also exercise flexibility to support parents who are working from home during this time, as having to care for their children personally might take a toll on their work productivity, MOH said.
“If it is the existing care arrangement for the child to be placed under the care of their grandparents who live outside the household and there are no alternative care arrangements, parents could consider placing their children with their grandparents throughout the entire circuit breaker period. This is to minimise frequent interactions across households,” it said.
The ministry added that it recognises that many parents will find this a difficult adjustment, especially if they have always had daily childcare support from grandparents, pre-schools or childcare centres.
“However, this is done out of necessity to protect our seniors,” said MOH.