With the axe hanging over Lingnan Primary School, it reopened yesterday with just seven pupils signing up for Primary One and only 61 pupils altogether - just a fraction of its usual quota. Normally there would be 50 pupils in the first year alone.
Parents who have not yet found new schools for their children continued to voice their frustration over a decision to close Lingnan Primary in July next year for a major rebuilding programme, without providing an interim campus. It is not expected to open its doors again until 2017.
"When an education organisation does not put the interests of its students first, it is profoundly corrupt … there is a terrible ethical misdoing," said Oonah Buist, mother of twin boys Kasper and Tristan in Primary Two at the school in Stubbs Road.
Parents, pupils and teachers tried in vain to persuade the Lingnan Education Organisation, the sponsoring body of the private school, to change its mind.
"Lingnan is a small school. It would not be hard to find somewhere to house the pupils. If they have the money to build a new state-of-the-art complex, you think they don't have the money to house 70 children? They just don't want to," Buist said.
Another parent, Carman Wong, said pupils were upset at returning to a half-empty school. She was told by a teacher that 30 per cent of the pupils were suffering emotionally. "They daydream a lot in classes and can't sleep at night. They are anxious as they are uncertain about what will happen to them," she said.
The closure also meant pupils had to study for entrance exams to other schools on top of their regular schoolwork. "Students are under a lot of stress because they have to prepare for entrance exams and school exams."
The Lingnan Education Organisation, which said it would not be making a comment yesterday, sent a notice to parents in April saying classes would stop from the end of the 2012/2013 school year until the revamp was completed in 2017.
The school warned in June last year that structural problems with buildings meant it would be closed for repairs. It insisted on going ahead with the reconstruction even when Buildings Department officials later said the campus was safe.