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.
International schools across Hong Kong are once again switching to online learning. Elementary School Principal at American International School, Linda Morrison, says the school is well-prepared for the move.
"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.
"After Lunar New Year or 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!"