HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong will re-open schools in phases from Sept 23 as the city's worst outbreak eases, said Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung on Monday (Aug 31).
Schools will allow half days of face-to-face classes, bringing an end to a closure of over two months as the city battled a fierce resurgence of infection.
Authorities imposed strict social distancing measures, including an early summer holiday for schools that started on July 13, to contain the surge in cases.
The closure was Hong Kong's second this year, after schools shuttered from February to late May during the pandemic's initial phase.
In total, children in the Asian financial centre have spent over six months at home this year, one of the longest periods globally.
The question of whether schools should be closed to curb infections has been one of the most emotive debates worldwide during the pandemic.
While kids are less afflicted by Covid-19 than older age groups, there is conflicting data over how much they spread infection to others.
The re-opening of schools in the US has seen a jump in infections among young people, sparking fears that full nationwide resumption of classes in September will cause a spike in cases.
The easing of Hong Kong's containment measures comes as new local cases drop from a peak of 145 in late July to below 25 for the past 12 days.
Officials are now also permitting evening dining, although bars, gyms and other high-risk businesses remain shuttered.
The city has kicked off a universal testing drive, offering free virus tests to its entire population of over 7 million in order to identify silent carriers.