Long delays and other hiccups greet cross-border students

Top News | Mandy Zheng 16 Jun 2020

The first batch of 2,500 cross-border students returned to school yesterday, though some were delayed for up to an hour due to long queues at checkpoints.

Secondary Three to Five cross-border students are allowed to enter Hong Kong through control points at Shenzhen Bay or Futian-Lok Ma Chau as long as they have tested negative for the coronavirus.

But it took some about an hour to cross the border on their first day back yesterday, with hundreds waiting at the Futian port on the Shenzhen side.

"It's still smooth, but we had to queue for a long time especially when we were going through disease control procedures in Shenzhen," said a Secondary Three student surnamed Shum, who attends a school in Tin Shui Wai.

"Staff needed to take our temperature and check many documents."

Her schoolmate Chui said she found it "troublesome" to have to stay on the school bus for almost an hour until all the other students had completed the border-crossing process.

But Chui was determined to resume classes as "there are things I can only learn in this period of time, and I don't want to wait until next semester."

Fung Kam-yin, principal of the Yuen Yuen Institute MFBM Nei Ming Chan Lui Chung Tak Memorial College in Tin Shui Wai, said there is room for improvement in the arrangements and urged authorities to open the checkpoints earlier and ease other procedures.

Fung's school saw eight cross-border students attend classes yesterday, all of whom showed up after 8.15am, with some arriving after 9am.

Some buses were also late picking up students at the checkpoints.

"They dropped off my pupils at a nearby bus station instead of the school gate," Fung said. "This is absolutely unsatisfactory."

Some of the cross-border students said they are going to spend HK$2,000 more a month for the shuttle bus taking them to school.

In Sheung Shui, a bus serving cross-border students arrived at Fung Kai No 1 Secondary School at about 9am.

One student said he started queuing at the border at 7am, but the crowd was so large it took him an hour to cross. The government announced last Tuesday plans for Secondary Three to Five cross-border students to return to school, while arrangements for those younger remained uncertain.

Starting from yesterday, Shenzhen Bay Port will open earlier on weekdays to assist these students, whereas the Futian-Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Port will reopen to serve them only.

Students need to submit health declaration forms and proof of negative virus test results within seven days before taking buses going directly to their schools.

Separately, local children from Kindergarten Three to Primary Three also returned to school for the first time since late January.

"I'm happy to see my classmates," a kindergarten student surnamed Choi said outside a school in Shau Kei Wan, whose mother was reminding her to keep her mask on and wash her hands.

mandy.zheng@singtaonewscorp.com

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