The Hong Kong Education Bureau has asked secondary schools to report how many students are wearing masks when classes resume on Tuesday, according to two principals.

Teddy Tang, chair of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools, said on a RTHK radio programme on Monday that the bureau asked schools to send a WhatsApp message before 11am on Tuesday stating how many pupils are wearing masks. They should also state the number of students boycotting classes, or are absent because of abnormal reasons.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked powers under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and enacted an anti-mask law on Saturday, banning people from covering their faces at approved or unauthorised protests. However, the new law sparked fresh demonstrations and unrest over the weekend.

Teddy Tang. File Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Tang said Bureau also asked principals to report if there were students chanting slogans or conducting sit-in protests. He added that the Bureau did not require students’ names.

“I don’t believe it is to put pressure on schools… the Bureau may be hoping to understand more about the emotional status of students,” he said, adding that the department was not intending to confirm the figures submitted to them.

Tai Tak-ching, head of the Wan Chai District Headmasters’ Conference, told a Commercial Radio programme that schools are not places regulated under the Public Order Ordinance, so the anti-mask law should mot be applicable inside schools.

Tai said he would not ask why students were wearing masks.

“Schools are places with many people, and it is natural for students to be afraid of getting sick,” he said.

He said he did not plan to send any statistics about students wearing masks to the bureau as it may spark fear among students.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.