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Threshold rises for "luring" teachers and students to take injections in full-time face-to-face classes (Sing Tao Daily)

  • The Education Bureau (EDB) has updated the conditions for full-time face-to-face teaching in secondary schools to require 90% of teachers and students to receive the three injections starting from November.


    (Sing Tao Daily) The new school year starts tomorrow, and with more than 8,000 confirmed cases in a row, all schools in Hong Kong are starting school for the third consecutive year under the epidemic. The Education Bureau announced yesterday that it will raise the threshold for resuming full-time face-to-face classes in secondary schools from November, and the vaccination rate of teachers and students must reach 90% or more; primary and secondary school students participating in extra-curricular activities will be required to receive the third vaccination from October. As of early August, nearly half of the secondary schools in Hong Kong had applied for full-day face-to-face teaching. With the increase in the threshold, some secondary schools have decided to maintain half-day classes for the first two months of the school year, while some principals intend to fight for short-term full-day face-to-face teaching, which is considered profitable even if they have to return to half-day teaching in November.

    The Education Bureau (EDB) yesterday issued a letter to all schools in Hong Kong, informing them of the strengthening of anti-epidemic measures in the new school year and the launching of the School Vaccination Recognition Scheme (SVRS). Primary schools and kindergartens will not arrange full-day face-to-face classes for the time being, while secondary schools will raise the threshold of students who have received three doses of vaccine to 90 per cent or more of the total number of students in the school or at that level from November 1, which is higher than the current requirement of receiving two doses of vaccine.
    Starting from October, students who return to school for extra-curricular activities will also need to receive three doses of vaccine.


    The requirement for primary and secondary students who have received two doses of vaccine to return to school for half-day non-academic extra-curricular activities or activities without wearing masks will be raised to three doses from 1 October. Students who need to return to school for care, including boarders, are required to have completed the third vaccination on the same day.


    The above arrangements exempt students who have completed two doses but are not yet due for the third dose, those aged 5-11 who need only two doses of Fovibactam, or those who have been infected and do not need to receive the third dose. However, students who are not yet due for the third dose should follow the advice of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) and receive the vaccination within one week from the expiry date. For children aged 3 or below, they are also required to complete two vaccinations from 17 October and receive the third one as scheduled. Starting from September, the Administration will collect information on the vaccination rate of teachers and students through an online questionnaire every month.


    As at the 2nd of this month, a total of 242 secondary schools in Hong Kong have applied for resumption of full-day face-to-face teaching in the last school year, accounting for about 54% of all government secondary schools in Hong Kong, of which 163 have applied for full-day schooling, while 79 have applied for part-time grades. According to the EDB, all secondary schools are required to re-apply for whole-day face-to-face teaching in the new school year. If individual schools submit their applications in accordance with the current two-pronged requirement on the opening day of the school year, it is expected that full-day schooling can be resumed next week at the earliest, but they will have to meet the new requirement from November onwards in order to maintain the arrangement.
    Principal: Maintaining half-day face-to-face teaching is the most stable.


    The Chinese Missionary Alliance Lau Wing Sang Secondary School in Chai Wan, where 90% of the students have completed the two vaccinations, originally planned to resume full-day face-to-face teaching from mid-September, but after the guidelines were updated, the school decided to maintain half-day face-to-face classes. Mui Chi-yip, the principal of the school, explained that as the current epidemic situation in Hong Kong is volatile and the number of new confirmed cases may exceed 10,000, it is believed that maintaining half-day face-to-face teaching is the "most stable" approach. He also emphasised that the main reason for students to receive vaccination is not to resume classes, but to protect their health. In addition, the method of calculating the three-vaccination rate is different from that of the second vaccination, and there is a lot of administrative work to be handled by the school administration, so there is no urgency in resuming the full-day face-to-face teaching.


    The two-vaccination rate of all students is also more than 90%. The principle of Lo Ting Pong Secondary School in Tai Po, Mr Kwok Wing-keung, said that the school intends to resume full-time face-to-face teaching after the Mid-Autumn Festival Holiday until October under the existing conditions, and that the school will communicate with parents in the hope of gaining more classroom hours, so that even if half-day face-to-face teaching is to be resumed in November, it will still be considered as earning a month and a half. He predicted that with secondary school students receiving the third vaccination from November onwards, full-time face-to-face teaching would resume after the Chinese New Year next year in the secondary school sector.


    In addition, the authorities updated the guidelines yesterday, stating that schools should not allow "red-coded" persons to enter the school premises and should report to the police immediately. "Yellow-coded" persons are not allowed to enter schools as visitors, including participating in school celebrations as members of the public, and even parents are not allowed to enter the buffer zone for picking up and dropping off their children. Staff and students who are "yellow-coded" are not allowed to remove their masks in the school, and they are required to eat in a separate place from others.