Addressing Thursday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Wong Kin Mou, who heads the Educational Resources Department of the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), announced that the provisional schedule for the phased resumption of school classes in Macau announced by his bureau last week will be postponed due to the latest COVID-19 developments in Macau – having confirmed seven imported COVID-19 cases since Sunday.
The increase in imported cases of the highly infectious disease in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and elsewhere has been described by analysts as the “second wave” of the potentially fatal illness.
Wong pledged that his bureau will continue to closely monitor any changes in the epidemic in Macau before announcing a new schedule for class resumption.
The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau announced last week 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 week.
The Higher Education Bureau (DSES) announced earlier this week that six of the city’s 10 tertiary education institutions would gradually resume on-campus classes on April 1: the Macau Polytechnic Institute (IPM), Macau Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macau Public Security Forces Academy (ESFSM), University of Saint Joseph (USJ), Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau (KWNC), and Macau Institute of Management (MIM).
No date has yet been set for when the city’s day nurseries will reopen.
Macau’s primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions as well as kindergartens and day nurseries have been closed since the Chinese New Year holiday in late January in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Local schools, universities and colleges have been conducting online learning sessions for their pupils and students since last month.
After having not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 39 consecutive days between February 5 and March 14, Macau confirmed a new case on Sunday, followed by six more cases over the next few days. All the seven new cases, which were confirmed between Sunday night and the early hours of yesterday, have been classified as imported cases. The seven patients comprise a visitor, two local students enrolled in the UK returning from there, two non-resident workers, and two family members of a non-resident worker – including an 11-year-old boy.
Including the seven new cases, Macau has confirmed 17 COVID-19 cases since January 22, when the first case – a tourist from Wuhan – was diagnosed. Macau’s previous last two COVID-19 cases, the 9th and 10th cases, were confirmed on February 4. All of the previous 10 COVID-19 patients – seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals – have been discharged from hospital, with the last one – a 64-year-old local woman – discharged on March 6.
During Thursday’s press conference at the Health Bureau (SSM) adjacent to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital, Wong said that due to the latest changes in the epidemic situation in Macau, his bureau had decided to postpone the provisional schedule for the phased resumption of classes in local schools announced by his bureau last week, after consulting the Health Bureau and assessing the possible adverse impact on Macau’s epidemic from the newly imported COVID-19 cases and Macau people’s ongoing return from overseas.
When asked by the media about a possible new schedule for class resumption, Wong underlined that his bureau previously announced its provisional schedule for class resumption after the epidemic in Macau and its neighbouring cities – namely Zhuhai and Zhongshan – had eased so as to enable pupils, parents and teachers to be prepared in advance. However, after Macau had confirmed the seven imported COVID-19 cases over the past few days, his bureau had, according to Wong, no choice but to postpone its class resumption schedule, after assessing the possible adverse impact on pupils resulting from the new epidemic situation in Macau.
Wong said that the possible spread of infectious diseases was unpredictable so that his bureau could now only continue to closely monitor the changes in the epidemic in and outside Macau before deciding on a new schedule for class resumption.
Wong noted that Macau’s basic education comprises 15 years – from K1 to F6 – so that pupils could always catch up on their lessons later throughout their school life, urging schools not to rush following the class resumption.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau Daily Times