All Hong Kong schools will be suspended for the month of Febuary to as a precaution against the coronavirus.
A government source revealed secondary and primary schools, as well as preschools, would not return from the prolonged break until March 2 at the earliest. Three Hong Kong universities confirmed similar measures.
Baptist University, Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) wrote to students and staff informing the suspension of classes on campus would now run until March 2.
The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups English Public Speaking Contest 2020, originally scheduled for February 29, has also been postponed until further notice.
Apart from extending the school break, top officials were considering other measures to contain the spread of the virus, including closing more border checkpoints, according to a second source who is familiar with the government's position.
Students are generally understanding of the decision, but are also worried abou the impact on their studies.
"This extension has disrupted my studying schedule further than the previous one. I was supposed to have mock exams after February 17, but now I guess I am not going to have any kind of preparation for the DSE exams at school. I feel anxious about the exams, but I cannot really blame the government or the virus." said Nester Chik Yiu-kai, 17, Sing Yin Secondary School.
"I feel dismayed because this is the second suspension this academic year and the tuition fee isn't getting any cheaper. I am also pretty worried about the upcoming assignments. Without face-to-face lectures, I guess it's more difficult to learn and make use of the course materials," said Jacqueline Guico, 20, who studies at City University of Hong Kong.
"However, I believe the suspension is necessary. Nobody wants to be infected by the virus and the university is only doing what they think is the best option for their students, which is to ensure staff and students' safety." she added.
However Zachary Perez Jones, 15, South Island School feels the government could wait and see first. "Having my IGCSE exams right around the corner has made me anxious about how this affects my final grades.
So far this virus doesn’t seem that bad when compared to the likes of Sars [severe acute respiratory syndrome] and Mers [Middle East respiratory syndrome], and I think that a whole month of school is extremely long; the government should have waited until the end of the initial two-week closure before jumping the gun. This way, there could have been a chance that we could go back if the situation has subsided." he said.
"All of these measures seem a bit excessive, given the substantial loss of productivity and impact on students and the economy."