Hong Kong has reported about 5,000 new daily infections since February 15 and researchers predict that new infections could peak at a 180,000 a day next month, which threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.
As part of measures to control the pandemic, the government has announced that all schools will remain closed; it has moved the July-August summer holidays forward to March and April so that schools can be turned into facilities for testing, isolation and vaccination. It is hoped that campuses will reopen after Easter.
International schools are lobbying the Education Bureau to continue online teaching in March and April. Heads of several international schools met with EDB officials for a two-hour online meeting on Wednesday (February 23) to express concerns that an early summer break would add further disruption to the education of their students.
All kindergarten, primary and secondary classes at both local and international schools across Hong Kong have been closed since January – and students had (once again) moved to online learning.
Elementary School Principal at American International School, Linda Morrison, says the school has been well-prepared for the move to online moving during the past few weeks.
"At American International School, our key mindset is confidence. Naturally, as we prepared our community to transition to Online School, growing our students’ confidence remained at the forefront of our planning. AIS educators are highly experienced and well prepared to facilitate online learning, given our recent experience. Our talented faculty and strong academic programs help us to design interactive learning opportunities, where students can interact, collaborate, communicate, and cooperate with other students, as a way of keeping online learning engaging, inspiring, and fun.
"Whenever it is possible for students to return to campus, we have plans in place to reacquaint our students with face-to-face learning expectations and routines. Once again, our key mindset of confidence will continue to drive our academic and social-emotional learning programs as our students work towards our ESLRs and to coming to school every day. We can’t wait for that!"
Current social distancing measures, such as a ban on dining at restaurants after 6pm and the closure of businesses such as gyms and bars, have also been extended until April 20.
“This is not good news to the sectors affected, but really at this stage of the pandemic we have no choice but to take these measures,” Lam said.
Hong Kong has largely aligned itself with mainland China’s “zero-Covid-19” policy, which aims to totally stamp out outbreaks. At the same, many other countries are changing their approach to living with the virus.
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