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  1. #5186
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    Default Singapore medical tourism booming

    By Vimita Mohandas | Posted: 02 October 2011 2018 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Tourism receipts from medical travellers last year hit an estimated S$940 million, a jump of about S$200 million compared to the year before.

    In 2009, S$732 million in tourism receipts were generated from medical travellers.

    Some hospitals have expressed optimism this figure would increase further.

    Currently, it sees some 8,000 patients a year, of whom about 90 per cent are foreign patients.

    One of the foreign patients was Setiawan Djody, who was listed by the Rolling Stones as one of Asia's top guitarists.

    But his rockstar status took a plunge after he suffered from liver cirrhosis due to excessive alcohol-consumption.

    In 2009, he sought treatment at the Asian Centre for Liver Diseases & Transplantation (ACLDT).

    It was through word-of-mouth and the centre's track record that made Singapore his choice destination.

    "There is an integrated system in Singapore. The hospital, the liver centre, (medical) facilities and infrastructure. There's also a good airport," Mr Setiawan said.

    "The quality is very good. I've been in hospitals in New York and Japan. But in Singapore, it is my home (as there are) Indonesians, Indians and Chinese."

    A liver transplant package at the centre can set a patient back by S$300,000.

    This is considerably more expensive compared to treatments offered in India, Thailand and Indonesia.

    But despite its high costs, medical travellers still choose Singapore as it is a trusted medical hub in the region.

    The ACLDT at Gleneagles Hospital said it expects to see 15 to 20 per cent more medical tourists in the next two to three years.

    ACLDT transplant surgeon Tan Kai Chah said: "The services we provide are very high end and demands a great deal of expertise and therefore most of the time, the patients who come to us are very well heeled and can afford the treatment.

    "There is a huge concentration of specialised medical expertise here more so than any other countries in this part of the world.

    "If you look at Singapore, the number of hospitals that are JCI-accredited is very high in proportion.

    In the World Health Organisation's last world health report on health systems, Singapore was ranked sixth out of 191.

    It was also the only Asian country apart from Japan that made it to the top 10.

    However, some medical concierges here have said there is still room for growth.

    Medi-Connect Singapore executive director Syed Munir Iqbal said: "There are certain markets that we need to work on and we need support from hospitals and STB

    "I think we are not very well represented within the GCC markets that will be like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar. And these are markets where there is money and there is a need for this.

    "There are certain roadblocks for these people to travel to the West. So it just makes very good sense for these people to come to Singapore for treatment.

    "But having said that, there is a lot of competition that's happening within Asia. That is worrying because increasingly, people are looking at costs and the Singapore dollar is appreciating to an extent.

    "But in terms of certain high-end surgical procedures, costs will not be a consideration. Having said that markets like India, Thailand and Malaysia are coming up very strongly in medical tourism."

    Mr Syed said he believes medical travellers from these countries will continue to travel to Singapore for treatment as it is still cheaper to do so when compared with going to the US or the UK.

    -CNA/wk

  2. #5187
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Tours, events being suggested for former railway station land

    by Imelda Saad Aziz
    Updated 12:18 PM Oct 03, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The authorities have said they would consider opening part of the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as an event venue, following suggestions on how it could be used in the interim. Other possibilities include having tours at the site.

    Some 40 per cent of railway tracks have been dismantled since the former Malayan Railway land was handed over to Singapore three months ago. The former workers' quarters are now vacant and the land around the former railway station left bare.

    The authorities said a draft master plan on its development is expected to be ready by 2013 but added there are no plans for any infrastructure development within the area in the interim.

    An Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia: "As for the interim use of the Spooner Road apartments (former quarters) and the two railway stations (Bukit Timah Railway Station and Tanjong Pagar Railway Station), URA will work with relevant agencies to consider suitable uses.

    "The idea to use part of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as an event venue and to allow tour groups to visit the building can be considered together with other possible interim uses for the building."

    Some developers said it may be quite a while - up to five years - before any development on the land takes place. In the interim, they said it makes sense to utilise the space and the former railway station offers much potential.

    SLP International research & consultancy executive director Nicholas Mak said: "The station itself can be conserved and then it can be used as either a museum or part of a hotel or another commercial development.

    "Another possibility is to let it out as a restaurant or for people to hold certain special events for example weddings, at the station itself."

    Meanwhile, the authorities will carry out surveys of the station buildings to formulate guidelines for their preservation and conservation.

    Members of public can give feedback on development plans for the former Malayan Railway land at www.ura.gov.sg/railcorridor/uservoice_landing.html

    There will also be an exhibition, "Re-imagining the Rail Corridor" at the URA Centre Gallery, from today till Oct 28.

    The initiative is part of a series of events dedicated to increasing public awareness and deepening the understanding of the tract of railway land returned to Singapore.




    related videos

    CNA Oct 03 - Ex-railway station an event venue
    Last edited by Loh; 10-03-2011 at 02:51 AM.

  3. #5188
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    Default 'Rail Corridor' to be final project name for former railway land

    Published on Oct 3, 2011


    Rail Corridor will be the final project name for development plans for the former railway land, Minister of State for National Development Mr Tan Chuan-Jin announced on Monday

    The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had used Rail Corridor as the working name for this project when the former railway land was returned to Singapore on July 1 earlier this year.

    A website was launched on the same day to gather feedback and ideas from the public in shaping the future development plans for the former railway land, including suggestions for a name for the project.

    A total of 158 suggestions on the project name were received on the website as at the closing date on July 31st. 'Rail Corridor' was one of the top three most suggested project names received. The other two project names were 'Rail Trail' and 'Green Corridor'.

  4. #5189
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    Default Seven receive URA heritage awards

    by Saifulbahri Ismail 04:46 AM Oct 04, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Seven teams have been recognised for their work in bringing the best out of the old and new in conservation projects.

    They received the Architectural Heritage Awards of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) that recognise owners, professionals and contractors who have gone the extra mile to sensitively restore their buildings for modern use.

    The Wanderlust Hotel at Dickson Road won in Category A for adhering to quality restoration principles of maximum retention, sensitive restoration and careful repair.

    The four-storey 1920s Art Deco style building in the Little India Conservation Area was once Hong Wen School.

    The URA described the resurrection effort as an illustration of creativity and good adaptive re-use of a rare and unorthodox beauty.

    The Fullerton Heritage
    , which includes the Clifford Pier building and Customs House, won the award in Category B.

    This category assessed buildings on the quality restoration of the old elements, and how new elements were integrated with the old.

    The URA said the two unique and historical buildings had been expertly refurbished into stylish food and beverage establishments.

    Other winners at the Awards were six units of narrow two-storey shophouses built between 1840 and 1900 in the Chinatown Historic District of Bukit Pasoh. They had been converted into one modern, open-plan corporate office space with yesteryear charm.

    Also given the award was Hotel Fort Canning, a three-storey Neo-Classical style building that served as a former military command centre.

    The contributions of the seven winners will be showcased at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road from today to Nov 24. Saifulbahri Ismail


    Former schools conserved

    Three former school buildings are to be conserved. They are the former Chong Cheng School at Aliwal Street, the former Anglo-Chinese School at Cairnhill Road and the modern block of the former St Anthony's Convent at Middle Road.

    Minister of State for National Development, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, said although the schools have moved to other locations, the buildings, with their distinctive facades, remain familiar and memorable landmarks.

    Speaking at the URA Architectural Heritage Awards ceremony yesterday at Clifford Pier building, he said the three schools will add to the over 7,000 buildings here that have been conserved since 1989. He said they form part of the effort to preserve "shared memory", which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talked about during this year's National Day Rally.

  5. #5190
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    Default RWS to have the best facilities in its marine life park


    by Esther Ng
    04:46 AM Oct 04, 2011

    Winter, the six-year-old dolphin which lost its tail in a crab trap, and the subject of the movie, Dolphin's Tale, would not have had the care or received a prosthetic tail without the "good programmes" of oceanariums and marine life parks.

    This was a point made yesterday by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) consultant Robin Friday (picture), who is in town for a week.

    Mr Friday, who is in his 60s, is the chief executive officer of Ocean Embassy, a organisation that engages in marine life education and display. The American spent a month with Winter earlier this year, when the dolphin was based at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida.

    According to RWS, Mr Friday's role was to maintain the "continuity of Winter's behavioural learning and development programme" - while covering the duty of a Clearwater staff - after the dolphin developed a "withdrawal syndrome" following the completion of the movie shoot.

    In the region to conduct a "peer review" of RWS' Marine Life Park rescue and rehabilitation programme, Mr Friday told Today he was "thoroughly impressed" with the park's rehabilitation facilities.

    RWS reiterated yesterday that it has "always been part of the Marine Life Park plan to set up a Rescue and Rehabilitation programme, so as to reach out to other marine mammals such as Winter in future".

    Asked what he thought about the well-being of 25 dolphins destined for the park, Mr Friday, who recently visited Ocean Adventure park in The Philippines where they are kept, said: "They have the best acclimation and seapen facilities."

    The eight-hectare Marine Life park is scheduled to open next year.



    PHOTO COURTESY RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA
    Last edited by Loh; 10-03-2011 at 09:26 PM.

  6. #5191
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    Default Circle Line extension to open in January, earlier than expected

    Published on Oct 4, 2011


    By Maria Almenoar


    Commuters will have a direct link to the bay area when the Circle Line extension opens in January.

    The earlier-than-expected completion date was announced at a press conference by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

    There are two stations on the extension. The first, called Marina Bay, will be an interchange with the existing Marina Bay station on the North-South Line. The second, called Bayfront, will be near Marina Bay Sands.

    Having a station nearby is likely to provide a boost for the integrated resort. Retailers there said they were looking forward to sales increasing once the extension opens.

    Gardens by the Bay
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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Circle Line Explore 12 New Stations

    Last Sunday was a free trial run for 12 addition MRT stations to the Circle Line.

    I joined many others for the first time at the Buona Vista station and made my way to Caldecott. From the station I walked for about 15 minutes across Thomson Road famous for its nursery belt and proceeded to MacRitchie Reservoir and Nature Reserve which I have not visited for a long time.

    Indeed the additional CL stations have enabled many to visit many interesting places more conveniently now.
    But I could only find time to visit MacRitchie and Holland Village as the trains stop at 6 pm.

  8. #5193
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Circle Line's 12 new stations

    Last Sunday was a free trial run for 12 additional MRT stations to the Circle Line.

    I joined many others for the first time at the Buona Vista station in the afternoon and made my way to Caldecott. From there I walked for about 15 minutes across Thomson Road famous for its nursery belt and proceeded to MacRitchie Reservoir which I have not visited for a long time.

    Indeed the additional CL stations have enabled many to visit many interesting places more conveniently now.
    But I could only find time to visit MacRitchie and Holland Village as the trains stop at 6 pm.
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  9. #5194
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default More pictures on MacRitchie Reservoir & Nature Reserve

    Somehow the rest of the pics did not appear yesterday and I now post them again.
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  10. #5195
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    Default Holland Village

    After spending some considerable time exploring MacRitchie, Holland Village (HV) was my next stop. We received an ear-piercing welcome from the happy drummers the moment we arrived.

    Set amidst an unlikely HDB housing estate at Holland Road, this is a popular watering hole for expatraites and locals alike, I suspect more so in the evenings after work. It is a surprise to see a quaint and humble mosque, Masjid Kg Holland, next to the open carpark. With the new Holland Village MRT linking this regular haunt at long last, more activities will likely be organized to attract greater patronage. Holland Rd Shopping Centre which stands directly in front of the station should see more business going their way.

    It must have been a great relief to motorists, visitors, residents, and the shops in the area to see HV back to normal after all the noise, dust and inconvenience during the construction period in this busy thoroughfare.

    The only hint of the name of the place is the model windmill perched high on top of a building. But I read that the name "Holland" is in fact the name of an architect who once lived in the area.
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    Last edited by Loh; 10-05-2011 at 03:03 AM.

  11. #5196
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    Default 'Poor students can score just as well as those better off'

    Published on Oct 5, 2011


    Education Minister Heng Swee Keat with pupils from Beacon Primary using laptops during an English language class yesterday. He said his ministry would continue to help more schools become 'good' ones with innovative programmes to bring out the best in children. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN


    By Sandra Davie, Senior Writer

    An international test which showed Singapore students excelling in mathematics, science and reading also revealed that poor children here can perform as well as those who are better-off.

    Besides testing maths, science and reading ability, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in 2009 also compared the socio-economic background of students against their test scores.

    The results, released at the end of last year, found that across education systems, better-off students do better academically.

    But in some education systems, among them Singapore, China, Korea and Finland, a larger proportion from lower socio-economic backgrounds performed better than expected.
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  12. #5197
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    Default How Singaporeans can hold their own


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:46 AM Oct 05, 2011

    SINGAPORE - With countries producing more graduates than before, it will inevitably take more than only paper qualifications for Singaporeans to hold their own, let alone stand out, in the global marketplace.

    And Education Minister Heng Swee Keat (picture) hopes that Singaporeans' character and non-academic traits will become their competitive advantage.

    In an interview with this newspaper last Friday, Mr Heng said: "You'll find that skills become a lot more globalised ... The question we have to ask ourselves is what will differentiate Singaporeans (and) convince somebody that the average Singaporean can do a better job than the average worker elsewhere?"

    He added: "A lot of that is how well do we work as a team: Do we spend our time quarrelling with one another or do we spend our energies productively? Are we just being critical and say so-and-so does a lousy job? Do we come together and brainstorm ... find a more creative, innovative solution in order to do better?"

    At the Ministry of Education (MOE) workplan seminar last month, Mr Heng called on schools to refocus on developing character and instilling values in students.

    To that end, Mr Heng unveiled several initiatives including a new Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum and a dedicated CCE branch.

    Mr Heng reiterated that the moves serve as a reminder: "It is not as if over the years, MOE has forgotten about moral education, character development.

    "It's just that as our society changes ... children today are more exposed to a wide variety of influences and they spend a lot of time on computers with their peers unlike in our old kampung days where we spend a lot of time with grandparents."

    Mr Heng also pointed out that the emphasis on character and values is "mutually reinforcing" with academic work.

    "If you teach a certain set of values about hard work, determination, caring for other people, there is a certain ethos," said Mr Heng.

    Away from the individual, the focus on values and character is also "central to us as a society because it not just about doing well economically, its how we want to see ourselves as a society".

    The former Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director, who became a Member of Parliament after May's General Election and was subsequently appointed Cabinet minister, stressed that the existing education system is sound and "quick fixes" are not needed.

    Said Mr Heng: "We have a very good education system, admired around the world (by) employers, parents, even students themselves."

    Reiterating the need to stick to fundamentals, Mr Heng noted: "We should not be faddish and just copy whatever there is in other systems."

    And Mr Heng rejected suggestions that the new initiatives were in response to an increasingly vocal electorate.

    Asked if he felt any pressure to introduce changes to the education system - in the current political climate - Mr Heng reiterated: "I stick to a very simple principle: Whatever that we do must be for the long-term interests of Singaporeans ... so it is not a matter of, well, there are a group of people who want change and we will make changes just to be popular."

    "Education is a very serious, long-term endeavour … I am very open to getting new ideas from new sources. But at the end of the day, we have to be very clear, this is not a popularity contest, it is about doing the right thing for Singaporeans."






    Last edited by Loh; 10-05-2011 at 03:59 AM.

  13. #5198
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    Default NTU unveils Singapore's first humanoid robot

    By Dylan Loh | Posted: 05 October 2011 1754 hrs


    Assoc Prof Xie Ming (L) and his invention, the Nanyang Technological University Advanced Smart Humanoid, also known as NASH.


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has developed a humanoid robot called NASH, which stands for Nanyang Technological University Advanced Smart Humanoid.

    According to NTU, it also has the beginnings of artificial intelligence. This means instead of just following orders, the machine can learn and adapt. Its inventor estimates that five more years is all it takes for it to blend into the everyday lives of humans.

    But with so many robots out there, what makes NASH different?

    It is the robot's "mind", according to its inventor, Associate Professor Xie Ming.

    He said: "It is unique... (It has a) meaning-centric mind. It's a mind which enables the robot to learn language... (and) the physical meaning of the environment."

    That makes NASH able to react to its surroundings, with a little help.

    Associate Professor Xie Ming said the 1.8-metre tall robot can gesture, walk, climb stairs and follow verbal instructions, making it possibly the smartest humanoid robot in the world.

    The researcher has worked on NASH, which has built-in sensors and cameras, for close to five years.

    NASH is still a work-in-progress, thus many tweaks will have to be made. But part of the plan is to turn it into a mass market product for everyday use.

    Associate Professor Gerald Seet, director of the Robotics Research Centre at NTU, said: "If it's sufficiently robust and fast enough, then... you could deploy it in place of any other human being. You could make it drive a car or maybe do an assembly task."

    The estimated cost of mass-producing NASH is about S$200,000 per unit, so you will need some cash if you want NASH to take over your household chores in future.

    -CNA/ac
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    Default S'pore opens doors to top scientific talent

    By Ambiga Raju | Posted: 05 October 2011 1005 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore will continue to welcome top international scientists to work here with local scientific talent.

    Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S Iswaran said the government has earmarked S$3.7 billion, or about a quarter of public R&D investment to support five thrusts in the Biomedical Sciences in the next four years (2011 to 2015).

    Key among these thrusts is to attract the most capable and committed scientific talent to nurture and sustain a world-class research hub.

    Speaking Wednesday morning at a biomedical science (BMS) conference at the Biopolis, Mr Iswaran said: "Our accent will continue to be on attracting and nurturing top scientific talent, and fostering deep and broad collaborative research across the BMS landscape."

    The conference attracted participants from 19 countries.

    Mr Iswaran said another key thrust is to double Singapore's pipeline of world-class clinician-scientists by 2015.

    He said this is to help grow talent pool and thought leadership in Asian diseases and in areas such as cancer, neurosciences, eye diseases, infectious diseases, and metabolic disorders.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default S'pore performs Asia's first new heart valve treatment

    By Sara Grosse | Posted: 04 October 2011 1442 hrs


    Surgeons perform heart surgery.


    SINGAPORE: A new minimally invasive procedure to treat patients with heart valve problems has been performed for the first time in Asia at the National Heart Centre Singapore.

    The MitraClip procedure
    is said to be able to improve a patient's heart function and relieve breathlessness.

    The centre has performed this treatment on four patients to date.

    One of them is 68-year-old Margaret Lim, who had the procedure in April this year.

    Before the treatment, Madam Lim experienced shortness of breath.

    She opted for the MitraClip procedure as her history of surgeries and lung disease deemed her unsuitable for open heart surgery.

    That is because Madam Lim is considered a high surgical risk patient.

    This new treatment is targeted at patients with severe mitral valve regurgitation -- a condition where the heart's valve does not close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart.

    If left untreated, about 30 per cent of these patients could die within six years.

    It may also lead to irregular heartbeat and worsening congestive heart failure.

    The procedure is performed through a small incision in the groin.

    A 4mm-wide metallic clip is delivered through a tube to the heart.

    The leaky valve is clipped in the middle, thereby reducing the amount of regurgitation.

    National Heart Centre Singapore's Department of Cardiology consultant Yeo Khung Keong said: "The key point is that they have great safety.

    "Procedure is done safely. Patients have a very short hospital stay. They do not require to be put on a prolonged mechanical ventilation or life support.

    "Patients don't require as much in terms of blood transfusion and overall, the patients feel better, faster."

    But Dr Yeo cautioned there are some risks with the procedure, such as bleeding complications.

    For Madam Lim, she still needs to take medication for her weak heart, but she said she has more energy now.

    The centre expects to see about two to four patients a month seeking this treatment.

    This treatment is not meant as routine therapy for patients who are at low risk and who may otherwise benefit from current surgical techniques.

    -CNA/wk
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    Default Lee Kuan Yew steps down from PAP central executive committee

    Published on Oct 6, 2011

    The man who co-founded the People's Action Party has stepped down from the party's apex decision-making body, its central executive committee (CEC).

    The resignation of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, along with that of five others - Mr Goh Chok Tong, Mr Lim Boon Heng, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr George Yeo and Mrs Lim Hwee Hua - were accepted on Wednesday by the CEC during a meeting, announced the PAP in a statement.

    They stepped down to facilitate leadership renewal, it said.

    Mr Lee and Mr Goh were conferred the titles of honorary Past Secretary-General, 'in recognition of their outstanding service and seminal contributions to the PAP and Singapore', said the PAP
    .

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    Default New community centre co-located with school

    By Dylan Loh | Posted: 06 October 2011 1219 hrs


    Artist impression of Pek Kio Community Centre.


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's first community centre co-located with a school is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.

    Pek Kio Community Centre will be integrated with Farrer Park Primary School.

    The facility in Moulmein-Kallang GRC aims to serve some 6,000 households in the area.

    Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who's also Member of Parliament for the constituency, officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.

    The new building, sited next to Farrer Park Primary School, will be four-storeys high.

    Residents can use the centre's dance studios, music rooms and the school's badminton courts and sports hall once it's opened.

    Mr Lui said: "These new facilities will enable the Moulmein grassroots organisations to organise a wider range of life-skill and lifestyle activities for the benefit of residents, and help to build stronger ties among the residents of the area."

    Representatives from the Moulmein Citizens' Consultative Committee involved in the project said the security of students was actively discussed with the primary school principal.

    The principal, Ms Loe Lai Pink, said she will look into any concern parents may raise regarding the project.

    Ms Loe said: "So far parents have been very supportive. They understand that there are mutual benefits. They have not come to me to express their concerns, but we have sent out letters and informed them."

    Barriers will be in place to separate the school and community centre during school hours.

    - CNA/cc
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