Schools seek extra day as classes called off

Top News | Stella Wong 14 Nov 2019

All schools will be closed today for safety reasons, the Education Bureau said following criticisms over its hesitation to call off classes for the past three days.

But principals said schools should also be canceled tomorrow due to dangerous and chaotic road conditions amid the violent protests.

Universities are taking more drastic measures, with Chinese University announcing the semester will be cut short immediately while others canceled their on-campus classes to switch to online learning.

The government had refused to suspend classes on Tuesday as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would not "fall into a trap" laid by protesters, which makes society appear at a standstill.

The association of heads of secondary schools said large-scale clashes and road blockage since the start of the week have directly threatened the safety of teachers and students and the deteriorating situation has seriously affected school operations.

The association's chairman, Teddy Tang Chun-keung, said over 100 secondary schools decided to suspend yesterday's classes by themselves.

"In some schools, over a hundred students were not able to return to school or were late due to the disruption in transport and road conditions. Even worse in some cases, 300 or more students were affected," he said. The association said schools and parents find it difficult to decide whether students should go to school as they do not know the overall traffic conditions and how serious the violence gets each day. It urged the bureau to also cancel classes tomorrow.

The bureau was silent on Monday when early morning protests began to paralyze traffic.

At 7.30am yesterday, the bureau announced in Chinese that parents may decide whether their children should go to school.

Asked about this, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said traffic conditions in different districts were different and every parent has their own considerations and situations.

But at 2.10pm, the bureau made a U-turn and announced the suspension of classes of all kindergartens, primary, secondary and special schools.

Meanwhile, Chinese University said its term one will be cut in view of "the escalation of social movements across the territory, the continuous disruption to public transport services, and the severe damage done to facilities on campus."

It added: "All classes, including undergraduate and postgraduate conducted on campus, are called off with immediate effect until the beginning of term two" on January 6 next year.

The University of Science and Technology announced it will close its campus until Sunday and take all possible measures so students "will not need to be on campus for the remainder of this semester."

From Monday, HKUST's mode of instruction will be online or other means.

It will also cancel all face-to-face examinations and replace them with projects or extended assignment, self-recorded presentations or video-conference oral examinations.

Faculty may readjust the percentage of various components for grades or postpone the final exam to the beginning of next term.

At Baptist University, all on-campus face-to-face sessions in the last two remaining teaching weeks of the semester will be suspended starting today. They will be switched to online mode or postponed.

University of Hong Kong, Polytechnic, City, Hang Seng and Shue Yan canceled classes this week.

stellast.wong@singtaonewscorp.com

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