Last-minute ESF suspension raises the ire of parents

Local | Cissy So 13 Nov 2019

English Schools Foundation cancelled classes for all its schools yesterday but their last-minute notice led to complaints from parents.

The foundation's chief executive Belinda Greer notified parents suspensions at around 6.30am yesterday.

On Monday, ESF allowed students to leave at 1pm, after conditions were deemed safe.

Some parents were not happy about the late notice as some students, such as students from Island School, were already on their way to school before they were notified .

The parents said ESF already knew about the situation the night before and should have notified them earlier rather than wait until the last minute.

Most of the parents said an e-mail was sent to them before, indicating that they could decide whether to send their children to school.

"It became apparent overnight that the situation in Hong Kong was highly volatile, unpredictable and changing fast," Greer wrote in the notice yesterday.

"Based on the most timely and credible information we received early this morning, including crucial feedback from our transport providers, we decided that the best, and only, option available to us, was to suspend classes in our schools."

Greer said decisions regarding whether schools would open would be made at the same time parents were notified yesterday.

Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union meanwhile suggested the Education Bureau should announce class suspensions for the sake of children's safety and traffic conditions as roads in many districts are locked, leading to serious disruption over the past two days.

The union said other than traffic conditions, they had received comments from teachers and parents saying police dispersal operations had affected university campuses and that kindergartens and primary schools were affected by tear gas which was harmful to health.

The Education Bureau did not announce school suspensions in the past two days of transport paralysis.

A number of schools decided to suspend classes on their own, including Tseung Kwan O Catholic Primary School near Tseung Kwan O station and Po Leung Kuk Wong Wing Shu Primary School.

The University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Education University of Hong Kong, and Vocational Training Council all suspended classes for the second day yesterday.

Meanwhile, all universities except Lingnan University will continue their suspension of classes today.

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