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Supporting students on Leave of Absence

10 Feb 2020

SLS photo resized
No one likes to be left out. Here’s how schools are helping students continue to learn and stay connected with school while on LOA. By secondary school teacher, Goh Hong Yi. 

Missing a day or two of school when one is sick is normal and to be expected. However, having to stay at home for two weeks can be worrying when we think of the lessons that we would be missing.

However, this is the situation that some students in our local schools are facing today. With the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov), students who returned from China in the last couple of weeks have been placed under a Leave of Absence (LOA) for 14 days. Most of them are healthy, but they are staying home as a precautionary measure for the sake of the other students. By doing do, they are being socially responsible and helping to contain the spread of the virus in Singapore.

So how are schools helping the students affected? Through Home-Based Learning Programmes.

Student Learning Space and more

Schools are committed to helping students keep up with their studies at home. Depending on the age of the student, teachers are coming up with different ways to deliver content and also assess the learning of students on LOA.

In Xinmin Primary School, form teachers have been liaising with the parents of affected students to ensure that they have their books, worksheets and other handouts to continue with their learning at home. A family member may choose to pick the materials up from school, or they could have it mailed to them with instructions on the pages that have been covered in class.

Besides these materials, students can also use the Student Learning Space (SLS). This is an online learning portal where teachers upload PowerPoint slides, videos and quizzes for their students, to complement what they have in their textbooks. While younger pupils may need some help from their parents to navigate the portal, most students are already familiar with it and are able to complete quizzes or upload their written work for their teachers’ feedback.

The SLS is an interactive platform, so it allows teachers to give feedback and for students to view and comment on each others’ work.

Mdm Noor Hafizah Bte Hamis, ICT HOD of Xinmin Primary School, said, “The student on LOA who logs on to the system at a later time can still see the comments written by his or her classmates. Through the platform, they can still get a glimpse of what went on in class and how their classmates approached the Math problem. We hope that this way, they will not feel so left out.”

For older students like those at Nan Hua High School, teachers stay in touch through SLS as well as other smart devices. Teachers upload resources through SLS, and students can clarify any doubts they have during their self-study through email or other messaging platforms. Some may also ask students to take a photo of their essay with their mobiles and teachers can give feedback easily that way.

According to Mr Koo Tiannuo, ICT HOD of Nan Hua High School, learning can take place on many different platforms, depending on the nature of the subject.

“My class is using Google site, so the affected student can continue to use this platform. Ultimately, we just want to ensure that those on LOA will continue with their learning at home and can re-join the class easily when they return after two weeks.”

A call every day

On top of the academic progress of the students on LOA, schools are also not neglecting their emotional well-being. Form teachers of the affected students are calling them every day to check how they are doing.

In Nan Hua High School, each class has a Care Champion, a student leader who helps to look out for students who are absent and update them on what is going on in school. Given that most of the students on LOA would soon be returning to school, Form Teachers have also briefed the rest of the class on how they should show care and help them adjust back to school quickly.

Mrs Thai Mok Jee, Vice-Principal of Nan Hua High School, said, “Just like any student who misses school when they are sick, the students on LOA will benefit from the support of their peers. The Care Champion is like a buddy for them, and we trust that our students will be understanding and take care of each other during this period. After all, no one likes to be in a situation like this.”