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Pre-schools, nursing homes gird for more haze ahead

SINGAPORE — One pre-school operator will designate “isolation rooms” for children who have respiratory issues at all its centres, while another is trying to procure air purifiers for its facilities. Others have ceased outdoor activities and kept their windows shut, providing masks for their staff and their young charges where possible.

SINGAPORE — One pre-school operator will designate “isolation rooms” for children who have respiratory issues at all its centres, while another is trying to procure air purifiers for its facilities. Others have ceased outdoor activities and kept their windows shut, providing masks for their staff and their young charges where possible.

These were among the measures taken by pre-school operators as they began girding themselves for what could be weeks of noxious haze. Nursing homes, likewise, have take steps to mitigate the situation for their elderly, such as by cutting down physiotherapy and strenuous activities.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) yesterday morning issued an advisory to all childcare centres instructing them to cancel all indoor and outdoor physical activities for children, keep them “strictly indoors” and close all doors and windows should the Pollutant Standards Index’s (PSI) 24-hour readings exceed 200.

YWCA Childcare Manager Sandy Koh said some children with caregivers have decided to stay home. “Across our centres, there is a 10 to 20 per cent absentee rate. Right now, we are trying to work out a deal with a supplier to purchase air purifiers but we are not sure if that is possible, as we will require several units for all our centres.”

At Agape Little Uni, staff decided to designate isolation rooms after an emergency meeting on the haze. Said its Overall Director Chris Lim: “We have also air-conditioned all our centres and kept the children indoors.”

A spokesperson from EtonHouse said its teachers have redesigned lesson plans and moved all “outdoor experiences” indoors.

Operators have also taken care to keep parents updated on developments and some said they have advised them to plan for alternative care arrangements should childcare centres have to close, as advised by the ECDA.

The PAP Community Foundation said all its centres will remain open unless instructed otherwise by the ECDA.

Another operator, NTUC First Campus, said a communications plan is in place to ensure that parents are informed promptly in the event of a centre closure. “Activity materials have been prepared and will be given to parents so that children can continue to learn and be engaged even at home,” it said.

Meanwhile, nursing homes like Ju Eng Home are keeping their spaces as well-ventilated as possible.

“We also cut down on physiotherapy as that can be too strenuous. We are keeping a very watchful eye over our elderly as well as our staff so that they won’t fall ill during this period,” said Nursing Director Helen Lee, adding that the elderly will be given masks if they ask for one.

Dr Tony Chia, Director of LC Nursing Home, said it has enough N95 masks on standby. “Our activities are all kept indoors now and we are monitoring the haze situation very closely,” he said. NG JING YNG

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