Hong Kong kindergartens finally resumed in-person classes on Tuesday after an almost four-month suspension sparked by the city’s fifth Covid-19 wave, with some parents saying they had to get up earlier to perform a rapid test for their children as required. Some parents also raised concerns over their children’s social skills, noting their young ones were reluctant to go back to school. The government previously announced that a third of kindergarten pupils would be allowed to return to classrooms from Tuesday, another third on May 10 and the rest on May 16. Primary schools, which partially resumed face-to-face classes on April 19, welcomed back all grades on Tuesday, while in-person lessons also commenced at secondary schools. That brought the total number of schools running in-person classes to more than 2,000. Children have to do a daily rapid antigen test (RAT) and those who are found to be positive must report the result to the Centre for Health Protection and their schools. The test result will be sent by schools to a new online platform every morning. According to government guidelines, schools must ask parents to sign a “Record Sheet for Body Temperature and Rapid Antigen Test” as proof of their children’s negative results. Class suspensions hurt kindergarten pupils’ abilities, Hong Kong educators say The Centre for Health Protection on Tuesday said 45 new Covid-19 cases were reported by students and teachers, with 18 conducting the test in the morning and others over the three-day long weekend holiday. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the daily testing requirement would continue for a while. She told a press briefing that it was “a very reassuring measure” for schools and parents and not intended to be permanent. “But in due course, we will, of course, revisit this measure,” she said. At Tsuen Wan Trade Association Chu Cheong Kindergarten in Kwai Fong, around 70 students from K3 returned, with five absent from school. At least five parents told the Post their children were already used to nose swabs, and the procedure did not cause any bleeding. “I think some parents who are choosing not to let their kids come back to school are still worried about the pandemic as the daily caseloads are still more than 300,” principal Lam Chui-ling said. Lam also called on the government to increase the subsidy for schools to buy air purifiers. “Our school bought a dozen air purifiers and this cost over HK$40,000 (US$5,097). But the government only gave each school HK$35,000, so we need to pay more than HK$10,000 ourselves,” she said, adding that the school had applied antivirus coating on surfaces that children might touch. Hong Kong parents fret over daily swab tests for kindergarten pupils A parent who only gave her name as Chan said she had to get up half an hour earlier than usual for her six-year-old daughter’s RAT, and send the results to the school before 8.15am as required. “I practised the procedure with my daughter one week before to let her get used to it … She hugged her dolls while doing it and is not afraid any more,” the housewife said. “When I first swabbed her nose, I told her it was normal to feel uncomfortable and I used toys to distract her,” she said. To, the mother of a six-year-old boy, said she needed to get up 15 minutes earlier and her child had sneezed several times after being swabbed. She added that RAT was not a problem for her son but the class suspension had affected the development of his social skills. “He speaks very little all along, and even less now,” she said, adding her son would hide behind her when encountering teachers on the streets. Another mother, surnamed Cheung, whose five-year-old boy kept crying at the school entrance, said her child was reluctant to attend classes. “[In-person] classes have been suspended for quite a long time, and he has not gone to school since then. He was okay with school before all this,” she said. 14 students, 1 teacher test positive for Covid-19 as Hong Kong resumes classes The guidelines also remind schools of measures children should follow at snack time. “[Kindergartens] should remind children to refrain from talking when their masks are taken off when having meals, and children should keep a distance with one another as far as possible,” the guidelines said, adding that children should put their masks back on immediately after finishing meals. Principal Lam said only two pupils could not enjoy the snack session as they were not vaccinated, adding the pair could bring the food home. She said 86 per cent of children at the school had received at least one vaccine dose. According to the guidelines, kindergartens where pupils take afternoon naps must ensure a proper distance is maintained between children and close face-to-face settings are avoided. At the same time, the children taking naps at school should have received one dose of vaccine and fulfil inoculation requirements as scheduled. “[Kindergartens] may also consider installing partitions between beds to reduce the risk of infection,” the guidelines said.