Testing times as classes resume

Top News | Moon Lam 23 Feb 2021

It was back to school for a third of students, as schools resumed in-person classes starting yesterday.

Schools with teachers undergoing Covid-19 tests every two weeks are allowed to resume in-person classes for all students.

Gertrude Simon Lutheran College in Yuen Long made a special arrangement for its morning assembly yesterday, allowing secondary one and two students to attend in the courtyard. Secondary three students joined in from the school hall, while the rest watched live broadcasts in their classrooms.

Students from different year groups took breaks 10 minutes apart from each other and left school in different time slots. Each student received 10 masks.

A secondary five student, Wong, said face-to-face learning is more effective than online classes, but said she did not find it necessary for all teachers to get tested before schools could fully resume in-person classes. Wong was skeptical about the need to put up plastic boards between student desks as an anti-epidemic measure.

"Classmates take away the plastic board to talk to each other anyway," she said.

Another secondary five student said she only slept four to five hours Sunday after finishing her homework.

She said she looked forward to science class but still preferred to have lessons at home as she did not have to wake up early.

A secondary one student, Heidi, was nervous about the return after having taken Zoom classes for so long. She said regular testing for teachers make students feel safer.

Vice principal Fred Chan Yiu-fai said a full resumption was not difficult, as the school board and all teachers agreed to the new arrangement.

He hoped teachers would also be included in priority groups for the vaccine. He also wants the Education Bureau to allow schools to resume full-day classes to help secondary six students prepare for public exams.

As of Sunday, more than 200 schools had applied for full resumption, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said.

Not among them was Ling Liang Church Sau Tak Kindergarten in Lai Chi Kok, which only resumed half-day classes for a third of its students. It divided students into three groups, each of which will take turns to attend.

A mother, Fung, agreed with the new arrangement but thought it was "childish" for schools to force teachers to test for Covid-19.

The bureau issued new pandemic prevention guidelines to schools yesterday.

It said students and school staff listed as close contacts of coronavirus patients should get tested and only be allowed to go to school after receiving negative results. They should show documents to prove they tested negative.

"Schools could consider adopting virtual learning when many teachers are not able to go back to school," it said.

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