After three years of a bitter struggle with the coronavirus, the scenes of long-separated family members, lovers and friends reuniting at the reopened border with the mainland have offered hope on the way forward. But many pupils, who attend school in Hong Kong but are currently stranded on the other side of the border, are yet to benefit from the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the city. Authorities must speed up preparations for the return of these children, taking into account lessons learned in the initial phase of opening up. It is good to hear that the educational needs of an estimated 18,000 children have not been forgotten. Under a government plan, they are expected to return to local schools after the Lunar New Year break. This should give schools and parents enough time to prepare following a three-year hiatus. Unlike travellers who are subject to a daily quota and prior online registration, such children will be exempted. “We understand that the needs of cross-border pupils are different from others and so they would not be required to register online beforehand,” Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan Kwok-ki said. After all, it takes some youngsters more than an hour to get to school and it would be impossible for them to compete for slots to cross the border each day. Exact details have yet to be worked out, but given the ongoing situation with Covid-19, some sort of monitoring may still be required. At present, local pupils remain subject to a daily rapid antigen test (RAT) before attending classes, while travellers must obtain negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results within 48 hours. Any arrangements have to take into account health risks and general convenience. Cross-border parents urge Hong Kong to reopen Lo Wu checkpoint for students The return of pupils will be another milestone in the pursuit of normalisation and, coronavirus vigilance aside, there needs to be better support for their learning and integration. They live across the border with their families for a variety of reasons and, like their local counterparts, may have become unfamiliar with fellow pupils, teachers and the school environment. What they require is not only travel convenience, but also to readapt to face-to-face learning.