Hong Kong secondary schools will only be allowed to continue full-day in-person teaching from November if over 90 per cent of students have received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, the Education Bureau (EDB) has said.
In a letter sent to all schools in the city on Tuesday, the EDB said schools would have to go down to half days if they failed to reach the 90 per cent threshold.
According to the bureau, the 90 per cent would include students who have received two doses but were not yet due for a third dose, fully vaccinated pupils aged between five and 11, and students who were exempt from needing a third dose after being infected with Covid-19.
Currently, schools are allowed to conduct full-day in-person teaching if 90 per cent of students have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Staff members have to fulfil the vaccination pass requirement in order to enter the campus.
The arrangements for secondary schools will not be implemented at international schools, the letter read.
“Students at primary schools and kindergartens are younger, they are not as able to look after themselves, and the vaccination rate in the three- to 11-year-old group is not high, therefore [we] will temporarily not arrange full-day in-person classes for primary schools and kindergartens,” the letter read.
The latest arrangements came ahead of the beginning of the new school year on Thursday and as Hong Kong saw an increase in the daily number of Covid-19 infections since the fifth wave ebbed several months ago.
On Saturday, education chief Choi Yuk-lin said that full-day in-person teaching could be suspended if the number of daily Covid-19 infections exceeded 10,000.
Hong Kong recorded 8,848 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, of which 237 cases were imported. The city also added 13 new deaths.
The city has reported 1,531,308 Covid-19 infections and 9,681 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.
Students can only take part in extracurricular activities in school from October onwards if they have received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, the EDB said.
Pupils who satisfy the requirement will be allowed to participate in non-academic activities such as sports and mask-off activities.
Children aged between five and 11 who have received two jabs, and students previously infected with Covid-19, will be seen as fulfilling the requirement, the EDB said.
Vaccination commendation scheme
A commendation scheme will also be launched to award schools with high student and parent vaccination rates, the EDB announced.
Schools will receive bronze, silver, or gold certificates if the percentage of students who have received three jabs exceeds 70, 80, and 90 per cent. The certificates will be awarded in December, February, April, and June. Schools will receive a “platinum award” if they receive three or more gold certificates.