Covid-19: HK Schools Close Again From Monday

Hong Kong's local schools close early for the summer break after a spike in locally transmitted Covid-19 cases this week.
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

The Education Bureau has suspended classes and brought forward the start of the summer holiday for all local schools in Hong Kong, following a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. All secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens will now begin their summer holiday next Monday (July 13).

There has been a surge in the number of locally transmitted Covid-19 cases this week. There were 42 new cases reported on Thursday, of which 34 were locally transmitted; this marked the second consecutive day of rising local infections.

The EDB said that it has made the decision to close schools again "in view of the exponential growth of confirmed COVID-19 local cases over the past two days and the Government's announcement on further tightening up of social distancing measures with effect from tomorrow as well as parents' concerns as reflected by school principals".

The decision mainly affects local schools as the majority of international schools are already on their summer break, and students are not due to return to campus until mid August.

The EDB has said: 

"We are mindful that some schools and kindergartens will commence the new school year in August. As such, the EDB will keep in close contact with the Department of Health, and announce the relevant arrangements for the coming school year in due course."

Primary Five students will continue with their scheduled examinations next week if they choose to; alternatively they can defer the exam to September. Exams for Secondary Three to Secondary Five students will also continue next week, and the Pre-S1 exam will go ahead as planned on July 14.  

The EDB said that schools must take necessary precautionary measures for these exams including temperature checks, wearing masks, asking students to wash hands, and distancing between students.

As the school closure announcement was only made late today (Friday, July 10), schools are allowed to arrange for students to attend campus from Monday to collect homework etc.

Commenting on the decision, Hong Kong's education secretary Kevin Yeung said: 

"As we all know, Covid-19 will likely be with us for a period of time. We have to balance between the normal daily life against the spreading of the COVID. The same principle applies to education. We have to balance the safety of the students as well as the educational needs of the students.

"Every day we have to judge whether we need to take any extra measures for the safety of the students. In the past two days we did observe that there is another surge of confirmed local cases. And also it is now very close to the planned summer vacation anyway – we are talking about seven to 10 days.

"So, we think that for the general good of the community, as well as the health of the students, we think that we can advance the commencement of the summer vacation to next Monday."

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