Classes suspended till at least March 16

Top News | Sophie Hui 14 Feb 2020

Classes for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools will remain suspended until March 16 amid the virus outbreak, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said yesterday.

Exams for Primary Six students for the Secondary School Places Allocation will be canceled. The allocation will instead be based on their two exam results in Primary Five taken earlier this school year.

The Education Bureau first extended the Lunar New Year holiday for schools until February 17, and later delayed class resumption until March 2. It further extended the date to March 16 yesterday.

"We will continue to take into account the professional advice from health experts, readiness of schools as well as the supply of epidemic preventive materials in the community in making further assessment and deciding on the exact date of class resumption," Yeung said.

The bureau has yet to decide on arrangements for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams, he said.

Last week, Yeung said the bureau came up with two plans - to postpone the Chinese oral exam so the written exam will be held as schedule on March 27, or to cancel both the Chinese and English oral exams, while written exams will start on April 24. All exams before March 27 will be postponed. The bureau will decide on which plan to adopt by the end of this month.

"Suspension of classes is not extra holidays," Yeung said.

"Schools are making use of different modes of learning, including e-learning, to achieve the goal of suspending classes without suspending learning," he said.

Yeung also said there is no rush for students who are in the mainland or other countries to come back to Hong Kong.

Students in Hong Kong should also avoid traveling abroad to reduce the risk of being infected during the journey.

Yeung also said the bureau understands the financial difficulties of kindergartens during the class suspension and will have measures to help them.

For those under the kindergarten education scheme, the government will calculate their monthly subsidies during the class suspension period based on the student headcount in January, so their subsidies will not be reduced due to withdrawal of individual students during the period."

Yeung also said the bureau will provide a one-off subsidy to all kindergartens for stepping up the cleaning work at their premises.

The Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers said about one-third of pre-nursery classes have dropped out since last month. "Since the class suspension, non-profit-making kindergartens and private kindergartens are facing financial difficulties," said its vice-chairwoman, Nancy Lam Chui-ling. "Some parents refused to pay the tuition fee or to apply for a dropout."

She said the pre-nursery classes were worst affected.

"If there are waves of closures of kindergartens, many teachers will lose their jobs, and will worsen the government's difficulties in its governance," she said.

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