PHOTOS: How Hong Kong Reopened Schools — And Why It Closed Them Again

Schools were shut when the novel coronavirus first became a concern. Here's how Hong Kong handled re-opening — and now, a second closing due to a spike in cases.
Children arrive at Hong Kong's Maryknoll Fathers' Primary School on June 8, the first day of classes since the COVID-19 outbreak. Source: Laurel Chor for NPR

Around the world, countries are debating what to do about schools during a pandemic.

In many places, they've been shut. In some they've reopened.

Hong Kong offers a cautionary tale of how difficult these decisions can be.

Schoolchildren were sent home at the end of January as the first wave of the outbreak began, originating from visitors from mainland China. Schools stayed closed through a second wave, sparked largely by European and North American travelers.

When Hong Kong appeared to be winning its war against COVID-19, schools started to reopen. That was the end of May.

Things looked promising: From June 13 to July 5 there were no locally transmitted cases in Hong Kong.

But the city is now fighting a third wave of infections, and the education bureau announced that the school year would end on Friday — about a week before the scheduled last day in mid-July.

The decision comes despite the fact that, as the Secretary of Education Kevin Yeung remarked, "there has not been any confirmed cases of infection

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