The decision affects all kindergarten and primary classes at both local and international schools across Hong Kong; secondary schools will remain open. The government has also extended its Sinovac BioTech vaccination programme to children aged five to 12 years.
A spokesman for the EDB said:
"The Covid-19 Omicron variant has high infectivity and is posing a serious threat. Currently, there is still an invisible chain of transmission within the community, and there have been confirmed cases of young children infected by family members in these few days. Teachers and peers who have had close contact with the infected children have to be put under quarantine. There have also been outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection in kindergartens and primary schools in recent months, with symptoms similar to those of Covid-19.
"Kindergarten and primary school students are young and their self-care capability is relatively lower. In addition, most of them are not yet eligible for vaccination because of the age restriction. We care about students' learning and healthy development, and are at the same time concerned that they have a higher risk of infection."
The EDB is encouraging all unvaccinated teachers and school staff, parents and students to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The EDB spokesman added:
"Suspension of face-to-face classes is a difficult decision. We hope that we can effectively control the epidemic with decisive measures at this critical moment, and that students can return to school with peace of mind as soon as possible."