The education minister hinted yesterday that primary school and kindergarten pupils could enjoy an early summer holiday as the swine flu pandemic showed no sign of easing. 'Now it seems that our dream [of resuming class] is quite far away,' Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung said on a morning radio programme. 'There are more and more local cases coming up every day. We have to assess the situation more closely.' He said a decision would definitely be made by tomorrow. About 70 to 80 per cent of primary schools would be 'greatly affected' by a prolonged class suspension because they had not finished exams, said the chairman of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, Alex Cheung Chi-hung. He estimated that fewer students would be asked to repeat a year because schools would only be able to use results from the first-term exam for reference. 'To avoid arguments, schools need to communicate better with parents if they really want a particular student to repeat.' Many schools would be forced to cancel graduation ceremonies and activities during the summer holiday, which could upset students, he said. Parents of Primary Five students were most concerned, because marks in the Primary Five end-of-term exam are among the deciding factors in Form One admissions. Mr Cheung said Primary Five students might lose momentum in their studies if exams were held in early September, after the long summer holiday. The chairwoman of the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations of the Sai Kung District, Rita Wong Sau-lan, said parents would have a hard time arranging activities for their children during the extra-long holiday. Parents also felt it was unfair that they had to pay for school buses and lunchboxes even though their children did not need them. The chairwoman of the Hong Kong Kindergarten Association, Mary Tong Siu-fun, said kindergartens were less affected but parents might refuse to pay school fees for July and August. Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong said he would raise the issue at a Legislative Council education panel meeting today. 'I hope that the parents will still pay the school fees, as it was not up to the kindergarten to decide if the schools were suspended or not,' he said. 'The government should offer a subsidy to kindergartens that run into financial difficulties.' Meanwhile, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung urged parents not to leave young children alone at home. 'Schools have the responsibility to remain open for children whose parents are too busy to take care of them,' he said after attending a Father's Day function. 'Of course we do not like to have too many children gathered in one place, but parents can still send their children to school if there is a need.' He added that parents could also seek help from community babysitting services co-ordinated by the Social Welfare Department.