'Daily Covid tests for students when schools reopen' - RTHK
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'Daily Covid tests for students when schools reopen'

2022-04-11 HKT 13:27
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  • 'Daily Covid tests for students when schools reopen'
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Monday that all students and school staff must test for Covid daily when face-to-face classes resume in phases from April 19.

Speaking at her daily press briefing, Lam said it’s important to allow some 800,000 pupils in Hong Kong to go back to school, after they’ve been through lengthy class suspensions and remote learning since the pandemic started more than two years ago.

“I must admit that there may be risks when we resume in-person classes after the Easter break, and I cannot rule out that there might be a rebound in cases. But having assessed the pros and cons, the government believes that we will be able to control the risk, because at the end of day, we put students’ interests first,” she said.

The CE said while all pupils are allowed back to school, those who are unvaccinated will be barred from taking part in non-academic activities such as music and sports, which she said was “for their own protection”.

To facilitate frequent Covid screening, Lam said the government will hand out a total of 10 million rapid test kits for free, for schools to distribute to an estimated 300,000 pupils in need.

Under the latest arrangements, only pupils and staff with negative test results can enter schools, and those who test positive must report their results to their schools and the Centre for Health Protection.

Schools themselves are also required to report all test results they’ve received to health authorities daily.

On the threshold of infections that would trigger class suspensions, Director of Health Ronald Lam said authorities would launch an investigation if at least five percent of pupils and staff from a particular school test positive, or if 10 percent or more of them in the same class have been confirmed infected.

However, schools with sporadic Covid infections can continue in-person classes, under adequate precautionary measures.

At the same briefing, Education Secretary Kevin Yeung said on-campus learning for kindergartens can resume in three phases, starting from May 3.

Primary schools will first resume half-day, face-to-face lessons in phases starting from April 19 the earliest, before having all pupils back on campus on May 3 the latest.

As for secondary schools, students are expected to begin returning to their campuses on May 3 as well, after the exams for the core DSE subjects have been completed.

By mid-May, all students should be attending half-day, in-person classes, Yeung said.

He added that individual secondary schools that meet the 90 percent inoculation target can opt for full-day, on-campus learning, adding that vaccinated students could even participate in mask-off activities, such as practising musical instruments.

But the arrangement does not apply to primary schools and kindergartens.

“For younger children between the age of 3 and 11, the overall vaccination rate is still on the low side, and their self-care ability is not as good as older students, so full-day classes will not be arranged at the moment,” Yeung said.

So far, 97 percent of teenage students have received one dose of vaccine, while 78 percent of them are double-jabbed.

Around 62 percent of kids aged between 3 and 11 are vaccinated with one jab, and only 28 percent have received two shots.