In light of the outbreak of COVID-19, all schools in Hong Kong have classes temporarily suspended for a period of time. Having taken into account the views of health experts and the school sector, the Education Bureau (EDB) announced in early May to resume classes in phases in a gradual and orderly manner. Secondary Three to Five students were the first to return to school on May 27 while students at junior secondary, primary and upper kindergarten levels will soon resume classes gradually. Parents, have you got prepared? Are your children excited to go back to school? Or are they a bit nervous or even feeling stressed?
Forge together with patience to tide over the difficulties
Our community is facing unprecedented impacts arising from the COVID-19 epidemic, and I deeply understand that many people are apprehensive in these few months, especially at the very beginning of the epidemic outbreak. Some were fearful of getting infected when they went outside while others were worried that they could not procure sufficient anti-epidemic items. Parents needed to make extra efforts in scheduling learning activities and rest time for their children during the class suspension period. Some parents were overwhelmed with the work from home arrangement and taking care of their children at the same time. It is also challenging for working parents who were concerned about their children’s learning at home when they went to work and had to follow up on their children’s online assignments when they returned home. With the gradual resumption of classes, parents are going to face new challenges. Not only will they have to help their children adjust their mentality on returning to school, they will also need to teach them how to maintain personal hygiene. In fact, parents, particularly those who have children with special educational needs, are always completely wrapped up in taking care of their children.
The concerted efforts and patience of you all are now paying off. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to everybody, including parents, students, schools and members of the community who are performing their respective roles and complementing each other in fighting the virus together. With the improved epidemic situation, various activities within the community including students’ classroom learning are able to resume. The whole community, as we have all witnessed, is benefited from the efforts made by all parents.
Foster continued home-school cooperation and keep up the efforts
Though the epidemic has shown signs of slowing down, in order to keep the situation under control, all of us have to stay vigilant and the Government will not relax the efforts in the implementation of anti-epidemic work. The EDB is temporarily implementing half-day classes in schools, and has issued the “Guidelines to Schools on Class Resumption” (the Guidelines on Class Resumption), urging schools to have thorough cleaning and disinfection in school premises so that students could study in a safe and hygienic environment. While schools are fully prepared, parents should keep working closely with schools so as to facilitate their children to resume learning on their return to school. To help parents and their children establish a good personal hygiene routine, the following “tips” may be useful:
(1) Remind your children to wear face masks at all times when they are on public transportation, streets and school campus;
(2) Urge your children to pay attention to the hygiene procedures in everyday life, for example washing hands thoroughly before eating, after touching their face masks or using the toilets; and
(3) Re-arrange the work/rest schedule of your children to establish a healthy daily routine, including time for learning, meals, physical exercises, play, etc., and to ensure that they get enough sleep.
The smooth resumption of classes has not come easily. The prerequisite is to provide and maintain a safe, stable and peaceful learning environment for our students. In this connection, I appeal to all parents to have more communications with their children, reminding them to stay away from crowded areas in order to minimise the risk of infection, to love and cherish themselves and not to take part in any dangerous or unlawful activities outside school hours or during non-school days. They should always take their own safety, health and future as the prime consideration.
Relax and build a positive family
Many parents are worried that their children’s acquisition of knowledge through online learning and reading books during the suspension of classes may be less effective than classroom learning. In view of this, the EDB has set out in the Guidelines on Class Resumption that schools should suitably adjust their teaching arrangement, including rescheduling the learning activities, revising the school timetables and lesson arrangements, so as to help students catch up with the learning progress. Hence, parents should not be beset by worries or overstretch their children to avoid exerting academic pressure on them. Parents’ care and support is very important for children’s development. To facilitate access to the relevant online information and resources, the EDB launched a parent education website “Smart Parent Net” (www.parent.edu.hk) in 2018. Parents are encouraged to understand more on how to establish a good parent-child relationship, parenting skills, emotional management of parents through the video clips and articles by experts available on the webpage. It is worth mentioning that we have produced a series of videos during the epidemic, titled "Suspending Classes without Suspending Love in the Epidemic: for Parents”, and invited experts to introduce parents to the skills on caring for themselves and their children as well as ways to reduce stress, so that their children can positively get prepared for class resumption. In the article “Having Fun with Your Kids While Stuck at Home”, experts share with parents how they can create various parent-child games at home. The short video “The Weighty Laugh” is about cyber bullying, and is suitable for parents and their children to watch together. Besides, the EDB has developed a series of learning and teaching resources for the reference or use of teachers and parents during the epidemic, including tips for supporting students with autism to cope with the class suspension and resumption arrangements, tips for parents on supporting children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and tips for parents on supporting children with specific learning difficulties in reading and writing. A territory-wide “Positive Parent Campaign” will be launched soon to further enhance the positive mindset of parents in nurturing their children. Would parents please stay tuned to the “Smart Parent Net” for the updates of activities and relevant information.
Overcome the epidemic with care, encouragement and self-enhancement
Over these few months, it has been impressive to see that schools, parents and students can care for and encourage each other in facing the epidemic. I would like to share with you all a winning entry from our slogan competition on promoting parent education - “Cheerful and positive parents raise a joyful and confident child”. I hope that all of you would embrace a happy and positive mindset to walk side by side with your children.
4 June 2020