Another dot in the blogosphere?

What can you do in two days?

Posted on: April 6, 2020

Last Friday afternoon, our Prime Minister provided an update on COVID-19 measures. It seemed to be hotly anticipated given how embargoed letters leaked and panic buying reared its ugly head again.


Video source (144-second mark)

You would have to be living under a nicely landscaped rock in Singapore to not know that the response to COVID-19 is circuit breaker. This seems to be our way of not saying social isolation or lock down.

An actual circuit breaker prevents a surge of electricity from destroying anything plugged in at home. A socio-economic circuit breaker restricts human socialisation, and hopefully viral transmission.

Unlike an actual breaker, the switch is not just all or none. Essential services like food providers, water and waste management, utilities, hospitals and clinics, transport, and banking will keep operating. All workers who can telecommute will do so, but those that cannot will have to stop working. We are, in effect, doing what the some of the modern world is already doing.


Video source (292-second mark)

The switch flips off on Tuesday (tomorrow) for gainfully employed workers. Social services like schools and institutes of higher learning (IHLs) will adopt home-based learning (HBL) starting Wednesday for three weeks (8 April to 4 May 2020).

Even though the announcements came at the end of what is the work week for many people, it provided some lead time to prepare. Unfortunately, some chose to participate in our national pastime of queuing, which defeats the purpose of circuit breaking.

Perhaps some folks think that the novel coronavirus has also been schooled to follow the rules and schedules here. It has not and concentrating people like that has led to social commentary like the tweet below.

But as usual, my mind stays with what happens in schools and IHLs. If social distancing is critical now, why make students attend classes today and tomorrow? Why not require them to stay at home and give these two days to teachers to prepare for the onslaught over the next three weeks?

The weekend would have provided time for caregivers to make arrangements for their children. Teachers could still have reported for work for two days and in the absence of lessons could have focused on:

  • Sharing resources, takeaways, and mistakes from the one-day HBL
  • Offering quick tips and ideas on technical how-tos
  • Planning better ways to conduct emergency remote teaching
  • Revising existing plans and schemes-of-work to accommodate emergency remote teaching

Can these procedures be done in just two days? I have facilitated this in less time, so I know this is entirely possible.

Are these explorations necessary? Definitely. Even though emergency remote teaching is not the same as facilitating online learning, it is not as easy as flipping a circuit breaker switch. You cannot simply change the medium and expect the method to remain the same or work as well.

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