Nowhere else to go: Hong Kong working parents take children to school despite cold weather suspension
Parents, teachers in the dark about city-wide class suspensions.
Kindergarten and primary school classes were suspended on Monday thanks to the city seeing its coldest weather in nearly six decades, with temperatures staying around 3 to 4 degrees Celsius in urban areas. But not all children stayed at home.
Caritas Ling Yuet Sin Kindergarten was still open, and two students were dropped off by their parents for the day on Monday morning.
“The kids don't have anybody to look after them at home, that's why their parents still brought them to school today,” said kindergarten principal Sue Yip Siu-fun. “We have the heater on and our canteen will serve food as usual ... we also Whatsapped the kids' parents [on Sunday], so most parents knew there was no school today.”
READ MORE: Hong Kong shivers through its coldest day since 1957 – kindergartens, primary schools closed today
Primary schools, kindergartens and English Schools Foundation special schools suspended their classes due to the cold weather. But not all parents were aware of the move.
At the Mid-Levels, where the mercury read about 4 degrees on Monday morning, Mr Lau took his eight-year-old son, Wing, to Li Sing Primary School at High Street, not knowing there were no classes.
“I didn't read the news so I didn't know [there was a suspension],” said Lau. “I took him to the school, but the janitor said he was the only one who turned up today.”
“I am going to look after him at home. It's cold, but I think school should still open,” Lau added.
As for secondary schools, the Education Bureau reminded parents to prepare enough warm clothing for their children.
Schools are required to pay attention to the physical condition of their students and to consider suspending outdoor activities to safeguard their health.
The Hong Kong Observatory said temperatures for large parts of the city were around three to four degrees on Monday morning, with those on the ground several degrees lower.
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Monday’s weather was expected to be fine and very dry, with humidity dropping to between 40 and 70 per cent. The cold weather is expected to continue until Wednesday, as a cold surge is still affecting Hong Kong.
Education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said the Education Bureau had been right to suspend classes in kindergartens and primary schools due to the cold weather. But he said education officials should have made their plans earlier.
Ip, also a vice-president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, said the group had received an increasing number of enquiries from teachers and parents wondering on Sunday afternoon if they should send their children to school on Monday.