The impact of the coronavirus around the world and on education in Asia particularly is something we are keen to understand and keep you updated on. So we asked Toby White, who heads up Kids Channel Ltd. and is a school recruiter and curriculum specialist based in Hong Kong, about daily life there and the effect on teachers, staff and pupils. Despite it being a difficult time in the region, Toby was happy to oblige. He reports the situation in HK currently in the following post.
‘Everything seemed to be getting better in Dec/Jan after the riots and protests in 2019. Numbers in our centre picked up and the feeling on the street was more positive and calm. Then the Coronavirus began…
The almost immediate response to shut all schools until Feb 17th was in some ways expected - with the huge numbers of people travelling to and from the mainland over the CNY holidays. Then they extended the closure until March 2nd.
The impact on schools/families/learning centres is pretty hard. Many centres and schools have gone down the video route. We are producing videos with our teachers for the schools they teach at - following the school curriculum and also adding crafts etc. to the lessons. This seems to be growing exponentially each day with more centres and individual tutors offering their services! It will be interesting to see if this becomes more popular when the panic is over.
There is a lot of panic at the moment. People wearing multiple masks, stockpiling rice, masks, canned food and toilet rolls to name a few! I honestly believe the panic is not warranted - more to do with social media ratcheting up the tension and fear. The streets are all quiet and many areas are like ghost towns. The impact on all businesses is going to be large - but for us in the education industry – I think it may be the end of many businesses - I just hope we are not one of them!!
To any prospective teachers thinking of coming to here, I would not recommend coming to HK at present. Certainly, until the quarantine has lifted and schools and centres are open again. There are still centres advertising for positions - but until everyone knows when they will be open again - there certainly aren't any jobs going spare.
There is talk of opening schools on March 2nd - There is also talk of taking this time as the summer break and opening schools throughout the summer. The effect it is having and will have on open exams is yet to be seen - but I know many local exams have been cancelled and more important exams (P5 and P6 and secondary) have been delayed already and no firm dates have been set to take them.’
Thank you, Toby for taking the time to keep us updated at a stressful time for you and the people of Hong Kong.
Our suggestion regarding travel to any part of Asia at the moment is to seek advice from the government in your own country first. The situation is likely to change so it is vital that you keep informed before accepting any job offers or embarking on travel to the region.
In the UK, that's available here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
In the USA, the state department issue guidance here:
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
In Australia: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go
You can also follow the World Health Organisation's guidance here:
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