Coronavirus: Hong Kong eases social-distancing rules for schools, drops partitions and 1-metre distance requirement

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  • With the latest easing of classroom seating arrangements, schools now only need to ‘maintain a proper distance between students’, including during group discussions
  • Overseas trips still not allowed, but vaccinated students can join local camping tours.
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Partitions in classes will no longer be needed in Hong Kong schools from kindergarten to secondary levels. Photo: Sam Tsang

Hong Kong schools from kindergarten to secondary levels no longer have to set up partitions in classes and at meals or observe a one-metre distance between individuals at assemblies, under revised pandemic guidelines issued by the authorities.

The new policy, announced on Tuesday, however stated schools “should not arrange” overseas exchange tours for students, although hotel quarantine measures for arrivals have been lifted. Instead, students who fulfil Covid-19 vaccination requirements are allowed to join camping activities.

Schools had been under stringent social-distancing rules since May 2020. Students had been required to sit in single rows in classes with a “face-to-back” setting and were separated by partitions, among other pandemic protocols.

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With the latest easing of classroom seating arrangements, schools now only need to “maintain a proper distance between students”, including during group discussions.

Requirements for partitions in group settings and at lunch, as well as the one-metre social-distancing measure have been removed. But kindergartens may consider using “partitions between beds to reduce the risk of infection” for pupils at nap time, according to the guidelines.

The rules for school assemblies have been relaxed, with students only required to observe “proper distance” from each other, and venues must be well-ventilated. Two weeks ago, education authorities announced primary schools could resume full-day classes next month if at least 70 per cent of students were double-vaccinated.

Pupils who fulfil Covid-19 vaccination requirements are allowed to join camping activities. Photo: Edmond So

As of last Thursday, a total of 35 out of some 510 local primary schools had applied for resumption of full-day classes from December 1, according to the Education Bureau. School principals said the number of schools choosing to resume such sessions was not high as time was needed to hire lunch suppliers.

From February 1, secondary schools planning for full-day classes must ensure 90 per cent of their students are triple-vaccinated.

The Post earlier reported that some Hong Kong schools were planning to restart overseas study tours, with hotel quarantine dropped after nearly three years amid the pandemic. But the bureau advised against such activities in the latest guidelines. “Schools at this stage should not arrange overseas exchange tours, excluding overseas competitions.”

Primary and secondary schools can arrange for students who have received two and three vaccine doses respectively to join local overnight camping trips.

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