During the daily Covid-19 press conference on March 23, government authorities specified the requirements that schools need to meet in order to resume in-person classes. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reiterated that schools can resume in-person classes on April 19 at the earliest. However, she added, “If we achieve a high vaccination rate among students, schools could resume full-day teaching and organise more extra-curricular activities, including sports.”
Resumption of in-person classes
Speaking about the order in which regular classes will begin, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said that, “Primary schools, international schools, kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-childcare centres will resume first. Secondary schools will have to wait for the end of the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams before they can resume. When the core subject examinations (English, Chinese, Mathematics and Liberal Studies) are going on, the schools can still deploy resources for online teaching to be conducted. Face-to-face classes will be on a half-day basis in order to minimise the risk.”
Face-to-face learning for primary schools, kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-child care centres was suspended on January 14, followed by the closure of secondary school campuses on January 24.
Resumption of full-day classes
Yeung added that a high vaccination rate among staff and students was essential to restarting full-day classes. “First, all teaching staff, including teaching and non-teaching staff, should have the second jab. Second, we should aim to achieve two doses for students up to 90%. If the schools can fulfill these criteria for full-day schooling and if some classes fulfil them, we will allow these schools to arrange for these classes to have the full-day schooling… (and) non-academic subjects like sports and music,” he said.
Arrangements for 2022 DSE examinations
The government still aims to begin this year’s DSE exams on April 22 and will keep assessing the pandemic situation in case it has to revise the schedule. He added, “Some candidates expressed concerns that they might not be able to attend the exams if they contract Covid or become close contacts (of Covid-19 patients). Special exam arrangements would be provided for candidates who need to be quarantined or isolated.”
Yeung also said that the EDB, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), the education sector and medical experts are considering setting up special exam venues for DSE candidates who test positive.
Currently, students eligible to sit the DSE exams must take a rapid antigen test on the day of each examination. If they test positive, they cannot attend the exam. They must also check their body temperature and fill out a Candidate’s Declaration Form on Health before going to the examination centre.