COVID Circuit Breaker & Home-Based Learning – How It Affects Singaporean Students?

What is the COVID Circuit Breaker?

With the current ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the world, Singapore introduced some measures (COVID circuit breaker) to ensure that the spread of COVID19 is contained in Singapore.

The circuit breaker measures were implemented on the 7th of April 2020.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that certain measures will be undertaken to help curb the spread of the virus. 

He mentioned that most workplaces will be closed and schools will move to home-based learning until the 4th of May.

Singaporeans are also advised to stay home and to go out only for essential services. 

On the 23rd of April, PM Lee spoke again.

He announced that these measures will be extended for another month until the 1st of June.

Home-based Learning will be conducted until the 1st of June.

How Has Education Been Affected In Singapore Due To The COVID Circuit Breaker 

The circuit breaker measures also suspended schools.

It shifted face to face learning to home-based online learning (HBL) to encourage safe social distancing. 

Previously, schools in Singapore conduct HBL from time to time.

They let students learn from home at least once or twice in their academic year.

This is to prep students for situations like this, where learning face-to-face is not the most suitable choice. 

This circuit breaker has made HBL extremely importan all students.

This is because not only schools were suspended, face-to-face tuitions are also suspended,

Leaving HBL the only learning platform for students.

Learning online may not be everybody’s cup of tea especially.

Especially when students in Singapore are so used to attending physical education 5 days a week.

This home-based learning is being conducted for close to 2 months to help curb the spread of the virus.

The HBL exercise practises in schools usually are 1-2 days for primary schools, 1 week for higher education students. 

The last time school was suspended was back in 2015 where the Indonesia Haze hit Singapore.

It caused our PSI to hit a hazardous level of >300.

It also affected a GCE O Level examination date and had to be postponed. 

Do you also remember when schools were closed in 2003 when SARS hit Singapore

Back in those days when schools were suspended for various reasons, online learning was not yet an option for the Singapore government.

When schools are suspended, the students’ learning is also put on halt. 

Due to the advancement in technology, students can now have access to learning while being stuck at home to observe safe social distancing. 

Many third world countries that have yet to have such advanced technology are unable to continue and resume lessons due to the pandemic.

Importance of Home-based Learning During COVID CIrcuit Breaker

Over the years, the government has developed e-learning portals.

They have also prepped students for home-based learning so that learning will not be disrupted in times like this. 

Home-based learning has definitely helped to minimise the learning gaps.

Here are some important benefits:

    • Minimised learning gaps – Home-based learning also enabled students to continue learning despite the circuit breaker measures being put into place. 
    • Discipline & Independence – Home-based learning instils discipline as children must actively participate when no rules are imposed.
    • Independence – HBL material is very independent, requiring children to understand concepts by themself.
    • Continuous learning – Students  can continue to learn and instil knowledge in times of crisis. 

Students in Singapore also follow a timetable generated by the school.

Their learning hours are specific and this kind of learning helps students in the long term.

Home-based learning has helped to continue this learning process and not break their learning habits despite the circuit breaker measures.  

There are online video lectures, lessons and assignments for students to go through now.

These are all prepared by their teachers that follow their curriculum and timetable schedule. 

Changes to Learning Schedules

The circuit breaker measures have also been extended as of the 23rd of April 2020.

It is being extended to the 1st of June.

It is also announced that home-based learning too, will be extended to the 5th of May. 

The annual June holidays for primary, secondary and junior college students have been brought forward.

Starting from the 5th of May to the 1st of June. 

Their new term will start on the 2nd of June (Tuesday).

The revised academic calendar is as follows:

    • 5 May 2020 to 1 June 2020: School holidays
    • 2 June 2020: Start of Term 3
    • 20 July 2020 to 26 July 2020: Mid-term break
    • 6 September 2020: End of Term

The government has also recently announced that they will be easing the measures.

Allowing small groups of students to return to school for face-to-face lessons from 19th of May.

This priority will be given to graduating cohort students taking the national exams at the end of the year – those taking the PSLE, GCE O and A-Level students.

Additionally, the extension of the circuit breaker has also made several changes to the school schedule for students studying in different institutions.

Here’s a quick overview of what the students of different institutions will have changes for: 

    • Students from polytechnics will continue with full HBL
    • Students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will continue with full HBL until 8 May 2020. Thereafter, they will be on vacation from 9 May to 1 June. (The vacation is brought forward from mid-June. ITE will be providing more details separately.)
    • Students from the Singapore Institute of Technology and some students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design will be starting their school term on 18 May 2020 in full HBL.
    • The other Autonomous Universities will be having their holidays. Those offering a summer term will conduct all classes online.


Not only are school curriculums and timetables are disrupted, but some examinations have also been postponed and rescheduled for another date.

Here are some of the national exams that have been pushed back. 

The GCE-Level Mid-Year Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Written Examinations will be rescheduled as follows:


Subject examined Original date  Rescheduled date
O-Level MTL (Papers 1 and 2)

A-Level H1 MTL (Papers 1 and 2)

1 June 2020 8 am 18 June 2020 2 pm
O-Level MTL B (Papers 1 and 2)

A-Level MTL B (Papers 1 and 2)

2 June 2020 8 am 19 June 2020 2:30 pm 


The listening comprehension for O- and A-level MTL and MTL B will be rescheduled as follows:


Subject Examined  Original date Rescheduled date 
O-Level MTL and MTL B Listening Comprehension 21 Jul 2020 27 Jul 2020
A-Level MTL and MTL B Listening Comprehension 22 Jul 2020 27 Jul 2020


There are more specific changes made to the school curriculum, you can read the detailed breakdown here

Effects Of Home-Based Learning On Parents

Higher education students such as the Junior Colleges students might be struggling without the help of their tutor’s guidance.

The curriculum for JC is tough, tedious and said to be not easy for many students.

This lack of guidance during the circuit breaker measures can take a toll on these students whether they are already struggling or starting to struggle. 

It is also extremely difficult and stressful for them as the JC curriculum is only 2 years,

By the end of their second year, they will be taking their national examinations. 

With the circuit breaker extended and June Holidays brought forwards, this means that Term 3 will now be longer.

But the MOE said it will put in place a one-week mid-term break from July 20 to 26.

The Ministry of Education has assured students that they will make changes to the curricula tested in national examinations this year.

Taking into account the impact of the extended circuit breaker on curriculum time and to allay students’ concerns and anxiety.

The extension of the Covid Circuit Breaker measures as well as the school term extension, might cause our children to feel pressured and worried for school. 

They might undergo pressure in terms of extended learning, high volume retention and the pressure of scoring for examinations.

Effects Of Home-Based Learning On Parents

During Home-based Learning, many parents have voiced out their opinions and thoughts.

On the Home-Based learning experience for their children.

Many found it ineffective and not engaging at all.

On the otherhand,  some thanked the teachers for their hard work of generating resources and learning materials for the students. 

This home-based learning has taken a toll on our younger children’s parents.

Guidance for younger children is crucial.

This guidance would include going through the materials with their children and teaching them the topic or concept.

Since face-to-face or home tuitions are suspended until further notice, the parents have no choice but to take things into their own hands. 

However, there are live online tuition platforms that are available to help out these troubled parents.

Live Online Learning is tutored and taught by experienced online tutors that are able to deliver quality education to the students online. 

Online Tuition shall not be confused with Home-Based Learning: 

Understand the difference between Online Live Tuition and Home-Based Learning – they are different in terms of the way lessons are conducted, lesson structure and many other factors. 

Tutopiya provides live online tuition that allows students to learn and be tutored just like face-to-face tuition.

We have built a cutom platform that is focused on providing highly interactive lessons.

Our tutors are screened and trained to ensure these tutors are subject trained specialists before they are allowed to teach online.

We also offers a free trial lesson to any new parents interested to experience online learning.

You can choose the tutor, subject and topic of choice for the trial! 

Live Online learning has its own benefits and it’s extremely helpful for working parents with children.

What’s Next for Singapore? 

Though the measures seem to be working and the spread of the virus in the community has been growing lesser and lesser.

The government has urged us to be on our feet always and make sure we do not grow complacent of the decreasing cases in the community.

We should continue to ensure safe social distancing when we are out. 

Whereas for schools, the government will undertake stricter measures for students entering schools for face-to-face lessons to ensure their safety.  

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