Hong Kong may suspend full-day in-person teaching if the number of daily Covid-19 infections exceeds 10,000, the city’s education chief has said.
Secretary for Education Choi Yuk-lin said on RTHK on Saturday that the Education Bureau would also review arrangements for mask-off extra-curricular activities.
“If the Covid tally really tops 10,000, we have made some plans, including reviewing the current arrangement that allows full-day classes at schools that reach a certain percentage of vaccination rate,” Choi said. “Maybe we will see whether the full-day class arrangement is appropriate.”
The new school year for primary and secondary schools will begin on September 1. Under current Covid-19 restrictions, schools are allowed to conduct full-day in-person classes if all staff members and 90 per cent of students have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The city has seen a steady rise in the number of daily infections since the fifth wave, which peaked in March, ebbed several months ago.
Hong Kong reported 9,708 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, of which 213 infections were imported. The city also recorded 10 new deaths.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began over two and a half years ago, in-person learning at Hong Kong schools has been repeatedly interrupted. Pupils have had to adapt to online teaching and at times saw classes suspended all together.
In March, most schools embarked on an enforced “summer holiday.” The six- to eight-week break usually takes place during July and August.
The government initially said it planned to use campuses as vaccination or testing centres during the proposed citywide testing, which was slated to take place in March, before being suspended
Hong Kong has recorded 1,513,972 Covid-19 infection and 9,664 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.
Young children vaccination
Around 10 per cent of young children aged between six months and three years have received a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung said on Sunday.
Hong Kong lowered the age threshold for receiving Covid-19 vaccines to six months earlier in August. At present, only the Chinese-made Sinovac jab is available to toddlers in this age range. The government is still in talks to secure doses of the BioNTech vaccine for children younger than three.
On Saturday, health authorities revealed that a 17-month-old boy was in a serious condition and was receiving intensive care. He had received a first dose of the Sinovac jab on Friday. However, Yeung said that parents should not be deterred from vaccinating their children as paediatrics experts had looked into the case and confirmed that it was not linked to the jab.
“Therefore I hereby urge parents to not be intimidated by this case, because vaccines are very useful in protecting children,” Yeung said.