No deadline for class resumption date
Addressing Friday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Wong Kin Mou, who heads the Research and Educational Resources Department of the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), said that if school classes cannot resume during the current school year, his bureau would allow all pupils to move up one grade – regardless of the academic performance results they had obtained before the class suspension in late January.
Wong said that the development of the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Macau and elsewhere was unpredictable so that his bureau was unable to set a deadline as to when classes in local schools could resume.
The bureau has underlined that if classes in local schools resume before the end of the current school year, classes could only run until July 31 at the latest – regardless of when classes resume.
Wong pointed out that since the COVID-19 epidemic emerged in Macau, his bureau has been drafting class resumption plans for different possible scenarios of the epidemic situation in and outside Macau.
“We have formulated plans for different scenarios, including scenarios in which classes can resume three months, two months or one month before the end of the current school year [at the end of July], or a scenario in which classes cannot resume during the current school year,” Wong said.
Different educational stages
Wong said that if classes – or classes in particular educational stages – cannot resume during the current school year, his bureau was “inclined” to allow all pupils – or all the pupils in the respective educational stages – to go up one grade. Wong said that DSEJ officials have briefed representatives from the city’s schools about the proposal in recent meetings, adding that all of them agreed with this proposal.
Macau’s basic education comprises 15 years – from K1 to F6, comprising different educational stages such as primary, junior secondary and senior secondary.
Wong said that his bureau’s decisions on when school classes can resume would be different for each educational stage because pupils in different educational stages have different “needs for studying” and, in this context, his bureau has given secondary school classes priority for class resumption, particularly senior secondary school (F4 to F6) classes.
Macau’s schools and kindergartens have been closed since the Chinese New Year holiday in late January in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. However, local schools – most of which are privately owned – have been conducting online learning sessions for their pupils since February.
Wong underlined that his bureau needs to assess when classes in local schools can resume based on the constantly changing epidemic situation in and outside Macau, adding that consequently it would be impossible for his bureau to set a deadline as to when his bureau could announce a final timetable for class resumption.
The bureau announced on March 13 its provisional schedule for the phased resumption of classes in local schools, according to which Macau’s schools were to gradually reopen from April 13. According to the provisional schedule, Form 4 to Form 6 pupils were to return to school on April 13. However, Form 6 pupils preparing for their university admission exams could return to school on March 30. Form 1 to Form 3 pupils were slated to return to school on April 20. Primary 4 to Primary 6 pupils were scheduled to return to school on April 27, while Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils as well as special needs education and kindergarten pupils were to return to school on May 4, according to the provisional schedule announced last month.
However, the bureau announced about a week later, on March 19, that it had decided to postpone the provisional schedule for the phased resumption of classes in local schools, after Macau’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections began on March 15.
Wong said that if his bureau chooses to announce its different scenario plans for class resumption now – about three months before the end of the current school year at the end of July, the plans would be invalidated if many new imported COVID-19 cases were to be confirmed at that time.
Summative or formative assessments
Wong said that regardless of the scenario in which classes can resume later this year and will be running for a few months before the end of the current school year or the scenario in which classes cannot resume at all for the current school year, schools would definitely need to adjust the assessments methods for their pupils for the current school year because classes have already been suspended for two months.
Wong noted that schools do not always have to use summative assessments, namely final examinations, to evaluate their pupils’ performances, and instead schools could choose to use diverse methods of assessments for their pupils, such as formative assessments – assessments that are constantly being carried out throughout a course.
Wong noted that even if classes could resume a few months before the end of the current school year, pupils would not have sufficient class time to prepare for their final examinations. Wong said that in this context, schools would need to assess their pupils’ performances more heavily based on the results they had obtained before the class suspension, in addition to the results they would obtain via diverse methods during the following remaining few months before the end of the current school year. Wong said that in this case, pupils would get their academic performance report card with “complete records”.
Wong noted that his bureau had previously announced its provisional schedule for the phased resumption of school classes after Macau was facing a lower risk for COVID-19 but “regretfully” the “second wave” of the COVID-19 infection began after the announcement, so that his bureau had no choice but to decide to postpone the provisional schedule for the phased resumption of classes.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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