How Will Hong Kong Schools Open For 2021-22?

After 18 months of campus closures due to Covid-19, what will back to school look like in Hong Kong? Here’s everything you need to know about how international schools are reopening for the 2021-22 academic year.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

Hong Kong schools are preparing to fully reopen for 2021-22 after reopening on a half-day basis and with a 30% cap on students since May. After a turbulent 18 months, Hong Kong’s international schools can welcome all students back onto campus from the end of August if 70% or more of the students, teachers and school staff have been vaccinated. answers all your questions on how schools will reopen, what to expect for the year ahead, and how Hong Kong compares to other countries.

Read more: Top Tips For Back to School

How Will Schools Reopen?

Social distancing measures have been in place at Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong since last year

Q: Can schools open for full-day, face-to-face classes?

All primary and secondary schools can open for full-day sessions if 70% or more of the students, teachers and school staff have been vaccinated; they must have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days before returning to school. If the number of vaccinated students has not yet reached 70% across a whole school, schools can fully open individual classes where 70% of students have had the vaccine.

Children aged 12 and over can receive the German-made BioNTech vaccine, while those aged 18 and above can choose the Sinovac vaccination.

Q: What social distancing measures will still be in place when schools reopen?

A: Students are still required to keep one metre apart, desks are spaced one metre apart and must be forward-facing, and one-way systems remain in the corridors to minimise contact. 

Timetables may still be staggered to ensure that students do not all enter and leave school at the same time, and students may continue to spend the majority of their school day within their home room or one classroom.

Tables in school canteens will be limited to small groups of students, with at least one-metre spacing between tables or groups.

Q: Will students need to wear a face mask?

A: Yes, all staff and students must wear either a face mask or face shield. As anyone leaving their home is required to wear a mask or face shield, parents must remember to wear one for school drop-off and pick-up.

Q: What should my child bring to school?

A: Students are advised to bring in their own water bottles to school, a mask (and a spare), and a pencil case filled with stationery to avoid needing to borrow equipment from their teachers or peers.

Q: Can schools teach PE and extra-curricular activities?

A: Schools are allowed to run group activities and small-sided games that involve minimal physical contact, such as badminton, table-tennis, volleyball, sepak takraw, with a limit of five students per group and safety measures. Large group activities and contact sports are not allowed; if masks are not worn, students must stay 1.5 m apart.

Q: Will field trips and assemblies still go ahead?

A: Many aspects of school that make it sociable and fun continue to be stripped back – the school assemblies, end of year plays, sports days, music events, and awards ceremonies. All school excursions and trips, including competitive sports with other schools, remain cancelled until further notice.

Q: How should students travel to and from school?

A: If your child is travelling to school on public transport, they must wear a mask - face shields are not allowed. Safe distancing should be observed. All commuters are expected to stand on the green stickers placed on buses and trains, and it is not allowed to sit on seats labelled with orange stickers.

If driving, many schools are asking all parents to drop their children at ‘kiss and go’ zones rather than escorting them onto campus and into class.

Q: Will my child need to have daily temperature checks?

A: All students must have a daily temperature check; students can only attend school if their temperature is below 37.6C/99.7F. Parents and helpers collecting their children must also have temperature checks taken before entering school grounds. Some schools have thermal cameras at the school gate to monitor temperature.

Q: What other health and safety precautions must be followed by schools?

A: At all schools, students are required to submit a health and travel declaration form before term starts.

Once on campus, students should not share stationery, there are hand sanitisers across campuses, and school premises are being regularly cleaned and disinfected. Water fountains will be switched off as a possible source of contamination, and students must bring their own water bottles to school; the number of students using the toilets at any one time is strictly regulated.

The layout of classrooms at Mount Kelly School, Hong Kong

Q: What happens if my child cannot attend school?

While the majority of students are able to be physically present on campus, others may not. Some schools may offer students a distance learning option.

Q: What happens if there is a case of Covid-19 at my school?

A: Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection has advised schools to immediately suspend face-to-face teaching for one to two days while awaiting official confirmation in the event any staff or students preliminarily test positive for Covid-19; the school would then be closed for 14 days if a case of Covid-19 is confirmed.

Q: Will all schools be closed again if the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in Hong Kong?

A: There is always a possibility that schools could be closed again.

Q: Will the IB Diploma Programme exams still go ahead in November?

A: At this time, the November 2021 exams are scheduled to take place as planned. But this could change if school closures become widespread again due to new waves of Covid-19.

Q: Are schools open for tours and open days?

A: Prospective parents and visitors can only visit campuses out of school hours and an appointment must always be made; many schools are still offering virtual tours as well.

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