Virus-tracing app mandatory in S’pore schools

The implementation of the entrance requirement to schools will be enforced for children age 7 and above

by BLOOMBERG / pic by BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • Singapore students have to start using either the government’s contact-tracing token or mobile app from December as the city-state seeks to resume more activities amid the pandemic.

The implementation of the entrance requirement to schools will be enforced for children age seven and above, and when they all have had a chance to collect the state-issued tokens or download the app, the Ministry of Education said on Monday, according to updated guidelines on its website.

The policy follows an earlier announcement that the “TraceTogether” technology must be used at popular venues like local restaurants, offices and shopping malls by December.

“Schools are safe with all the existing safe management measures,” the ministry said. Nonetheless, this policy will “complement current safe management measures as we progressively resume more activities and ease certain restrictions, both in and out of school.”

Students will not be denied entry to schools if they do not have the app or forget to bring the token, it added.

Singapore reopened its schools in June after a two-month partial lockdown. The country is looking to ease up more on pandemic curbs to normalise activity as new daily coronavirus cases have dwindled to near zero. Officials have said testing and tracing are key to these efforts.

The app and the token, which is currently being distributed to Singapore residents, work by exchanging Bluetooth signals with other apps or tokens nearby. The data is stored for 25 days before being deleted — and the app does not capture geolocation data and thus cannot track movements, the ministry said.

Since the announcement of the compulsory use of the tracing programme, demand has surged for the token with long queues at the community centres where they are being distributed. More than 50% of the population is now using the TraceTogether programme, the Straits Times said.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who also co-chairs the virus taskforce, said at least 70% of the population has to be using TraceTogether for it to be effective. — Bloomberg