COVID-19 Circuit Breaker: What you need to know about home-based learning
COVID-19 Circuit Breaker: What you need to know about home-based learning
Full Home-based learning (HBL) kicked in from 8 April
min read Published on 08 Apr 2020

[Updated as of 21 Apr]

As part of heightened safe distancing measures during the COVID-19 circuit breaker, all primary, secondary, Pre-University and IHL students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools shifted to full Home-Based learning on 8 April.

In addition, all preschools, MOE Kinderartens and student care centres, including special student care centres, are suspending their general services during this period.


During the HBL period

Schools are continuing to provide instructions and support for student sto access a range of both online and hardcopy HBL materials.

The Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) platform is accessible to students during this period. Students who require digital devices or internet access are being assisted.

Throughout the HBL, teachers and other school personnel continue to work from home or from school to support students. School staff will also keep in contact with them and their parents.

SPED teachers will also continue to provide students and their parents with HBL support for the customised curriculum and maintain regular contact.

Extension of Circuit Breaker Period till 1 June 2020

With the Multi-Ministry Taskforce's decision to extend the Circuit Breaker (CB) period till 1 June 2020, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will bring forward the June holidays to 5 May 2020. 

With the school holidays brought forward, lessons will resume on 2 June 2020 (more details on the format of these lessons – physical classes, partial HBL or full HBL – will be released at a later date). 

Term 3 will now be longer, but there will be a one-week mid-term break from 20 to 26 July 2020.

These adjustments will apply to all MOE Kindergartens, primary, secondary and Pre-University students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools.

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 
'' HBL is a fall back when schools are suspended; it cannot be a prolonged substitute for school. It is better to let everyone have a break from this intense period." 
- Education Minister Ong Ye Kung

The IHLs will take the following approach from 5 May 2020 to 1 June 2020:

  • 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.


'' We are implementing a national circuit breaker policy and schools are an important part of it. It will help us move towards a position where we can enhance safe distancing, cut down on social interactions significantly and reduce transmissions. ''
- Education Minister Ong Ye Kung

For those with are unable to secure alternative childcare arrangements during this time

Parents are strongly encouraged to keep their children at home during this period.

Parents working in essential services like healthcare and who are also unable to secure alternative care arrangements, may continue to approach their children's primary school, MOE Kindergarten or SPED school for assistance during this time and during the school holidays.

These support services have been ongoing throughout the HBL period, and will continue to be offered. Private education institutions should either continue with their HBL arrangements, or suspend classes otherwise.

Examinations during this time

  • Cancelled: All school-based mid-year examinations
  • The GCE-Level Mid-Year Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Written Examinations will be rescheduled as follows:
Subject examinedOriginal date  Rescheduled date

 O-Level MTL (Papers 1 and 2)

A-Level H1 MTL (Papers 1 and 2)

 1 June 2020 8 am18 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 andMTL B Listening Comprehension 

 21 Jul 2020 27 Jul 2020
 A-Level MTL and MTL B Listening Comprehension 22 Jul 2020 27 Jul 2020


Removal of Common Last Topics (CLT)

The CLT is a set of topics from a syllabus identified by MOE that would be taught last by all schools towards the end of the academic year.

It provides MOE and SEAB with the flexibility of reducing the scope covered in national examinations should an unforeseen situation occur that does not allow schools to complete their teaching for the graduating cohorts. 

In light of the extendeed CB period, the CLT will be removed from the national examinations this year. The CLT will still be taught, but not be examinable.

For skill-based subjects such as English Language and MTL, it will not be meaningful and practical to identify CLTs. In such instances, SEAB will take the disruption to curriculum time into consideration during marking and grading to ensure that all students are fairly assessed.


Qn: Can students still come back to school premises during this time?

Students are therefore strongly advised to stay at home and avoid going out unnecessarily, unless they have been identified for the limited service arrangements or to use the school computers for HBL, which allow them to be in school during the HBL days. Schools and IHLs will be in touch with their students on the necessary arrangements.

Qn: Is the SLS equipped to accommodate all students under full HBL?

During the national one-day Home-Based Learning (HBL), while most students and teachers were able to access Student Learning Space (SLS) for their lessons, some experienced intermittent availability of the system on the morning of the first day for primary schools, especially between 8.00am and 9.50am. MOE resolved the issue through a series of technical measures to better manage the increased user numbers. There was a smoother experience on the second and third days of HBL for the secondary schools and JC/CI.

MOE has also advised schools on practices that they can adopt to ensure a smooth experience for all SLS users, such as encouraging students to adhere to their allocated log in times to the SLS system to complete their online assignments. MOE will also ensure that the system remains accessible to users throughout the full HL period.

In addition to SLS, schools employ different online tools and resources for lessons, or assign learning through offline modes, such as issuing assignments to students using textbooks and workbooks.

Qn: I have three children and do not have enough devices at home for their Home-Based Learning (HBL). What should I do?

HBL involves both online and offline approaches to learning. Therefore, not all HBL will require the use of devices and your children can take turns to use the device.

If the HBL plan issued by the school requires the use of a computer/device and your child is not equipped with one, do approach your child's school for assistance.

All schools are equipped with sufficient devices to loan out to students for online HBL. Schools can also assist if the child does not have access to the internet at home.

Qn: If we have to go through a prolonged period of Home-Based Learning (HBL), what will happen to exams?

For school-based examinations, schools will review and adjust their plans to ensure continuity of teaching, learning and assessment through HBL.

For national examinations, MOE recognises these are major milestones and will ensure that these examinations will proceed as far as possible so that graduating students are not disadvantaged. MOE/SEAB will take various measures to lessen the impact of prolonged HBL on students. For example, if curriculum time cannot be fully recovered, MOE will consider removing certain topics from the examinations (both for school-based and for national examinations) and the mark scheme will take this into account. When awarding grades, MOE will also take into consideration the exceptional circumstances to ensure that no students are disadvantaged. As of now, national examinations will proceed with no adjustments necessary.   

For more information, go to MOE’s FAQs for COVID-19