Primary Four and above to resume classes on May 12

The Education and Manpower Bureau announced that Primary Four and above at primary and special schools (except schools for the mentally handicapped) would resume classes on May 12. Classes of Primary Three and below, schools for the mentally handicapped, kindergartens and child care centres would be resumed on May 19 according to a tentative schedule.

Speaking at a press briefing today (May 2), the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, said that classes of secondary schools had been fully resumed and the situation was on the whole satisfactory.

"I understand that some people, including parents, have reservation over the phased class resumption for Primary levels and below, especially when there were two students involved in suspected atypical pneumonia cases over the past week.

"I must stress that all the students involved in the confirmed cases reported earlier and the recent suspected cases have got infected outside their schools. Thus, further extension of class suspension will not lower the risk of students being infected. The more important thing is to implement the necessary measures in preventing the virus from entering school premises," he said.

"We have conducted consultations on the phased resumption of classes and the arrangements are supported by the Subsidised Primary Schools Council and the Committee on Home-School Co-operation.

"Today I make an early announcement on the class resumption date for primary schools and kindergartens. It is to allow schools and parents more time to prepare themselves and undertake various precautionary measures prior to class resumption. I hope that the two parties can co-operate with each other for the smooth implementation of class resumption," he added.

Professor Li pointed out that schools and parents must join hands with the Government to take the following preventive measures:

* All parents must make sure that their children are in good health before sending them to school. They have to check whether their children have developed symptoms of atypical pneumonia and take their temperature daily.

* If a staff member/student is confirmed/suspected to have contracted atypical pneumonia, the whole school will have to suspend classes for 10 days. Should the case turn out to be non-atypical pneumonia, the Department of Health (DH) will inform the Bureau to arrange for class resumption as soon as practicable.

* If a staff member/student has close contact with any family member/person confirmed/suspected to have contracted atypical pneumonia, he/she has to stay away from school for home confinement/observation for 10 days. The home confinement /observation arrangements will finish as soon as DH confirms the case to be non-atypical pneumonia.

"The above-mentioned measures will help reduce the risk of atypical pneumonia spreading in schools. If there is any student infected or suspected to have been infected in the community, we will immediately impose segregation to safeguard the health of school staff and students," Professor Li said.

To tie in with the class resumption at primary and special schools, the Bureau will issue additional guidelines to remind schools of the various points to note, including arrangements for undertaking academic assessments and making up the lessons lost during class suspension. Whole-day schools are advised to adopt a flexible timetable and consider adopting half-day schooling to spare students having lunch at school.

On the supply of anti-atypical pneumonia items, all primary schools, kindergartens and special schools have started to receive in batches face masks, ear thermometers, probe covers and chlorine balls. The Bureau has also obtained from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust a donation of $100 million for schools to cope with the extra expenses incurred in stepping up the preventive measures. In addition, schools are allowed the flexibility to deploy and use a wide range of school grants to meet the need.

Prior to class resumption, schools have to step up cleansing and disinfectant measures. Health inspectors from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department will pay visits to schools to look into their hygiene condition and offer professional advice.

In addition, the Bureau will organise a series of talks for parents where its staff and DH representatives will explain the class resumption arrangements for primary schools and take questions from parents. Details of the talks will be announced on the Bureau's website ( early next week.

The Social Welfare Department (SWD) also announced that all day child care centres, including nurseries, day creches and special child care centres, would resume classes on May 19 according to the tentative schedule. However, all centres would remain open for those in need of care.

The Bureau and SWD will closely monitor the situation to determine whether the class resumption arrangements for schools, kindergartens and chid care centres need any adjustment. Further announcements will be made if necessary.

End/Friday, May 2, 2003
Department of Health