Pupils told to do homework and carry on with studies online during pneumonia crisis, but teachers must turn up for work As schools closed their gates following the government's order that they must shut in response to the pneumonia crisis, principals and teachers worked on contingency plans for the coming week. Children were sent home with homework and instructions to use on-line learning via school Web sites. The Education and Manpower Bureau will decide towards the end of next week whether the closure should be extended beyond April 6. The EMB has called on schools to provide guidelines for parents on how they can avoid contracting the disease. Parents should report to schools if a student or family member becomes infected. The guidelines are posted on the EMB Web site www.emb.gov.hk . Paul Yau Yat-heem, principal of Logos Academy, said the situation was 'chaotic' as more than 100 students were absent yesterday.He called on the government to develop an emergency mechanism for schools to communicate with staff and students during crises. Teachers are expected to report for work next week, a move condemned by a secondary NET teacher. 'It's too dangerous for students to come to school but it is ok for teachers,' he said. But a spokesman for the Professional Teachers' Union said that like all other workers, teachers had a duty to report for work. They also needed to look after students whose parents were working and had nowhere else to go. English Schools Foundation chief executive Jonathan Harris said some ESF staff could work from home. 'There is always pressure from teachers to have more time for planning and preparing new materials. This will be their ideal opportunity,' he said. Chairman of the Sha Tin District Primary School Heads Association Ng Shun-cheong said the closure would not seriously affect students' studies since they would have been revising for the mid-term examination. Schools are now planning how to make up the lost days. The government has said that even with the enforced closure, the number of holiday days must not exceed the 90-day maximum. The EMB guidelines say that schools should consult teachers and staff on revising their holidays, and then seek approval from their management committee. The ESF has posted a notice on its Web site ( www.esf.edu.hk ) seeking the views of parents and staff over how to make up the days. Options include extending the school day, opening on Saturdays, taking days from the Easter holidays or extending the summer term. 'My own preference would be to extend the school day,' Mr Harris said. Many parents had sent e-mails requesting schools remain closed until after the Easter holiday, he said. Shortening the Easter break might not be practical because many teachers and families had already booked holidays. Principal of SKH Holy Trinity Church Secondary School Wu Man-ming is concerned that there would be chaos if the summer term was extended because this would clash with the registration period for Form One. He suggested the 90 holiday days be extended. Principal assistant secretary for education Ma Siu-leung said it was too early to decide on future holiday arrangements. Many schools are arranging for students to study at home next week, including via school Web sites. Mr Harris said that even before the announcement he had written to principals requesting them to plan for this. Learning materials will be available on both primary and secondary school Web sites from Monday. Peter Tang Siu-hung, principal of SKH Kei Tak Primary School and chairman of Primary Education Research Association, said his students had been instructed to draw, write and create drama scripts based on their feelings towards the war in Iraq or the local virus outbreak. As Education Post went to press, universities announced they would also be suspending classes until April 6.