The Education Bureau (EDB) has now issued guidance on the resumption of in-person classes. ESF’s preparations to resume face-to-face classes next term must take into account the need to reduce the risk of viral spread. Whilst we want to get every single child back into school, as soon as possible, their health and safety must always come first.
Having reviewed our plans for the start of term, I confirm that we will continue as planned to operate a shortened day in all schools for the first four days of term (19 to 22 April 2022).
The resumption of in-person classes in Kindergartens, however, is to be phased in from 3 May, at the earliest, in line with EDB guidance. Therefore, all of our Kindergartens must start the new term online from Tuesday 19 April. I know that this delay is not what any of us want to hear.
To resume in-person classes, we must have a number of stringent anti-pandemic measures in place, including a requirement from EDB for all students and staff to take a Rapid Antigen Test (“RAT”) each morning before attending school.
Daily RATs will help to maintain safe learning environments for all ESF students and will help to facilitate the continuation of face-to-face learning.
We rely on parental support to effectively deliver on the EDB’s requirements. I am confident that you will understand the need for daily use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). Simply put, for ESF to have in-person classes, students and staff need to take a RAT each morning and may only attend school if they have a negative result.
I would want to stress the importance of us working together to keep schools safe and open – we all need to trust that everyone in school has tested negative and does not have COVID-related symptoms.
ESF is currently procuring Centre for Health Protection (CHP) approved RAT kits for our students and staff. These RAT kits will be distributed to students and staff following their return to school after the Easter Break. Until then, students and staff returning to school must source their own RATs and ensure that they complete a RAT with a negative result before entering school premises each day.
Should anyone prefer to use a different brand of RAT they are free to do so.
If your child tests negative following a RAT and is feeling well with a normal temperature then your child may attend school. If your child feels unwell she/he should remain at home even if testing negative after a RAT.
There is no requirement to report negative RATs to the Department of Health or EDB.
If your child tests positive following a RAT you must:
- Keep your child at home;
- Notify your child’s school of the positive test result before 9am. This can be done via the ESF App (feature available from Tuesday 19 April 2022). EDB then requires schools to report daily positive test results, sharing information that includes student name, student HKID number and the date of the positive test; and
- Report the positive result to the Department of Health as soon as possible and at the latest within 24 hours via the “Declaration System for individuals tested positive for COVID– 19 using Rapid Antigen Test” through the website https://www.chp.gov.hk/ratp/.
The HK Chief Executive has confirmed that children testing positive will not be separated from their parents during quarantine. CHP has put in place a ‘triage mechanism’ for determining treatment and isolation of confirmed cases. Dependent on an individual’s health and living conditions, they may undergo isolation at home.
In summary, everyone must take a RAT on a daily basis (the only exception is made for those who have recovered from COVID-19 and have no symptoms, they are not required to be tested within three months from the date of the recovery).
Only positive results are to be reported to the school and to the Department of Health.
However, it is important to note that the EDB does require parents to confirm that their child has taken a RAT each day. To support this ESF is adding a feature to the ESF App which will enable parents to confirm that a RAT has been taken, or that their child is within three months of recovery from COVID but with no symptoms. The App feature will be ready for use from Tuesday 19 April. Scroll down to view the Q&A about RAT.
CHP has confirmed that with proper anti-epidemic measures in place, students and teachers will not normally be regarded as close contacts if an infected person has been in the school. Schools will not be required to suspend classes automatically.
The CHP will monitor the number of positive cases in each school. If the number of positive cases exceeds their defined threshold then this will trigger an investigation with appropriate follow up measures, including class suspension and thorough disinfection of the school.
To resume full-day classes, schools need to meet the requirements of the EDB guidance, including sufficient lunchtime spaces to reduce the risk of viral spread. This means that ESF schools with sufficient dedicated canteen spaces may be able to resume in-person, full-day, from 25 April. Schools with insufficient space to meet the EDB requirements for full-day provision will be required to operate a shortened time in school.
Each ESF school is currently considering how their circumstances allow them to comply with the EDB requirements for full-day provision. Plans for in-person classes, from 25 April or in the case of Kindergartens, from 3 May, will be finalised next week and schools will be in touch with you directly to let you know the arrangements.
You will appreciate that keeping your children safe in school is our utmost priority.
We have ‘Vaccine Pass’ arrangements in place in all schools. This means that all staff are vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption. Whilst students are not required to be vaccinated to attend school, the EDB and Department of Health strongly urge parents to arrange for their children to be vaccinated on the basis that this provides the greatest protection.
EDB has confirmed that schools may resume extra-curricular activities but only for students who are fully vaccinated.
Schools will be in touch with you next week to confirm their arrangements for in-person classes from 25 April and from 3 May in Kindergartens.
Due to the nature and extent of the EDB requirements for resuming face-to-face learning, this letter is much longer and more detailed than normal. For clarity, here is a simple summary of the key points for you to note:
- All ESF Primary, Secondary and through schools will resume face-to-face classes from next Tuesday 19 April 2022.
- ESF Kindergartens will resume partial face-to-face classes from 3 May 2022, with full resumption from 10 May 2022.
- From 19 April 2022, all students must undertake a daily RAT test with negative result in order to attend classes. Parents must note that they have completed the RAT test via the ESF App.
- Any student with a positive RAT test result must stay at home and report the result to their school via the ESF App (and also report to the HK Department of Health via their website).
- ESF will provide RAT test kits to all students for use from 25 April 2022. Distribution will be managed by your school. Until then, parents must provide their own RAT.
These arrangements have been put in place so that your children are safe whilst benefiting from face-to-face learning.
We will keep these approaches under review in the light of experience and any advice from EDB and CHP. You can be assured that we will not keep them in place for a day longer than is necessary.
Chief Executive Officer
English Schools Foundation
Important Information: Mandatory Daily Rapid Antigen Tests
The Education Bureau of HK (EDB) requires all students and staff to take a Rapid Antigen Test (“RAT”) each morning before attending school in order to resume face-to-face classes.
ESF is entrusting parents and students to comply with the Education Bureau requirements to ensure that our schools remain safe for students and staff. Daily RATs will help to maintain safe learning environments for all ESF students and will facilitate the continuation of face-to-face learning.
Parental support is paramount in order to effectively deliver on the EDB’s requirements. ESF is confident that parents and staff will be understanding of these new requirements and will comply with daily RATs.
Some common questions and answers surrounding RATs are set out below:
What if my child tests positive after a RAT?
If your child tests positive following a RAT you must:
- Keep your child at home;
- Report the positive result to the Department of Health as soon as possible and within 24 hours via the “Declaration System for individuals tested positive for COVID-19 using Rapid Antigen Test” through the website https://www.chp.gov.hk/ratp/; and
- Notify your school of the positive test result before 9 am. This can be done via the ESF app.
What if my child tests negative after a RAT?
If your child tests negative following a RAT you should ensure that your child does not have any other Covid related symptoms including a fever, a cough, tiredness or loss of taste and smell. If your child feels unwell your child should remain at home even if testing negative after a RAT.
If your child tests negative following a RAT and feels well enough your child may attend school.
There is no requirement to report the results of a negative RAT to the Department of Health or your child’s school.
Will ESF provide RATs to students?
ESF is currently procuring RATs for all ESF students and staff. These RATs will be distributed to students following their return to school after the Easter Break. Until then, all students returning to school must source their own RATs and ensure that they complete a RAT before entering school premises.
ESF is sourcing RATs that are approved by the Centre for Health Protection in HK for distribution to students. Should parents prefer to use a different brand of RAT they are free to do so.
What will ESF do with my child’s positive RAT data?
All ESF schools are obliged to collect this data by the Education Bureau of HK.
Positive RAT results reported to ESF schools by parents will be notified to the Centre for Health Protection daily. This is an Education Bureau of HK requirement.
If there are no positive RAT results reported to a school, the school will report that there have been no positive RAT results on that day.