Teacher tests not a prerequisite for resuming classes
Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung says the government is not making schools force teachers into taking coronavirus tests as the latest plan to resume in-person classes has been met with resistance from headmasters.
According to the proposal of the Education Bureau, schools where teachers are tested every two weeks may allow all students to resume in-person classes after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Those which do not can allow up to a third of all students to return to school for half-day classes.
After attending a Legislative Council meeting yesterday, Yeung said the government only wants to offer one more option to schools.
The government will not force testing on teachers and does not want it to become a pressure for headmasters.
But he said schools would be safer if all teachers take the test regularly and that some schools managed to have all teachers tested during a voluntary scheme earlier.
The government would like people to get tested as much as possible in order to curb the spread of the outbreak, Yeung said.
"But for this particular measure or initiative that we are now proposing, it is just an option," he said.
"We are just allowing those schools whose teachers are very willing to undergo testing this opportunity for them to have the whole school resume face-to-face lessons at the earliest opportunity."
Yeung said testing of teachers will not be the only condition when the bureau considers resuming in-person classes.
Also to be taken into account are the development of the pandemic, preparedness of schools and opinions of health experts.
The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools issued a statement yesterday, expressing their worries for the regular testing arrangement
The group said the arrangement "lacks scientific evidence and is unreasonable,"
It said the risk of infection would still exist even if all teachers and staff take the test every two weeks.
"Those who are tested could be infected after the test, and the number of students who did not take the test is 10 times more than the number of teachers and staff," the association said.
"There is a chance that students can infect other students, as well as the teachers."
Tai Tak-ching, head of the Wan Chai District Headmasters' Conference, said he does not understand the logic behind such arrangement.
Tai said unlike in private schools or tutorial schools, it is difficult for principals of aided schools to force teachers to take the test.
They also cannot refuse teachers to return to school just because the they have not been tested.
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