Virus tests loom for cross-border studentsLocal | Mandy Zheng 11 May 2020
Some 27,000 cross-border students face coronavirus tests as they head back to their schools.
The word came yesterday from Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung as he explained how Hong Kong and mainland authorities were looking at ways to simplify measures for students who commute, with the aim of getting around the need to go into quarantine.
One of the options being considered was making them undergo tests for Covid-19 and then issuing health certificates that would be recognized on both sides of the border, he said.
But he admitted: "It's hard to say where we are in the process of discussion We may not reach a conclusion by the time classes resume. But I can say we have a strong willingness [to help cross-border pupils]."
Rules in place since March 27 have meant people heading into the mainland via Guangdong border checkpoints must be tested for Covid-19 and undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Likewise, people arriving in Hong Kong from the mainland have to accept home quarantine for two weeks.
This raised questions about the situation of students who live on the mainland attending schools in Hong Kong.
Schools in the SAR begin to reopen in phases this month.Secondary three to five students return to classes on May 27, primary four to secondary two on June 8, and kindergarten three to primary three on June 15.
Lower kindergarten classes will not return during this school year.
Yeung said last week that if the mandatory quarantine measures are still in place when classes restart cross-border students may apply for exemptions.
He also said he would be meeting with staff of schools that have a large number of cross-border students this week to talk about help.
Authorities announced last month that quarantine restrictions would be relaxed for cross-border students as well as people doing business in the mainland.
Separately, sources said SAR officials are studying how cross-border commuting will proceed after June 7 with the end of the two-week quarantine requirement.
One arrangement could be to allow Hongkongers to head to the mainland and Macau with a health certificate stating they are free of the virus so they would not face quarantine in Hong Kong or the mainland.
Under such a scenario, Hongkongers might need to go to local hospitals and test negative for the Covid-19 after which they be allowed to cross the border within a certain period.
It is understood that could become a regular arrangement for locals going through border checkpoints until the coronavirus crisis passes or a vaccine is developed.