Students can finally take their masks off while exercising but must keep them on during the rest of the time at school, education authorities have said as Hong Kong eases the last of its Covid-19 restrictions. The Education Bureau on Thursday also noted fitness levels of students “might be different” from before the pandemic began in 2020, and reminded teachers to adjust the intensity of exercises according to students’ fitness levels. “Teachers should adjust the level, exercise intensity during physical education lessons and physical activities appropriately and remind students to proceed progressively according to their ability,” it said. The bureau added that teachers should encourage students to engage in physical activities daily “so as to improve physical fitness level”. The city’s nearly 700,0000 primary and secondary schools students have been required to wear masks at school at all times since 2021, including during physical education lessons. But after the government last week dropped almost all Covid-19 measures as it prepared to fully reopen its border with mainland China, the bureau updated its guidelines for physical education on Friday, saying students should maintain a proper distance as much as possible while exercising even if they were allowed to take off their masks. “Schools might arrange secondary and primary school students to participate in physical activities without wearing masks, including physical education lessons, ‘contact’ sports such as football, basketball and … large-scale sports events such as games day, swimming gala and athletics meet,” it said. First Hong Kong primary school students return to full-day, in-person classes Wong Wing-sum, executive director of the Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China, called the new approach “good news” as students could now return to practising more vigorous sports. Being required to wear a mask for two years had left some students feeling out of breath even while jogging and reduced their overall willingness to exercise. “But I think some parents would still prefer their kids to wear masks as they may feel uncomfortable or nervous about catching the virus,” he said. Students attending other subject lessons are still required to wear masks at all times, except when playing wind instruments during music classes.