The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government wants to free up about 20,000 cross-boundary students and their companions from the daily quota restrictions for cross-border travel when they return to Hong Kong for face-to-face classes on Feb 1, Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin said on Wednesday.

All secondary schools in Hong Kong will resume full-day face-to-face classes on Feb 1. 

From Wednesday to Saturday, in the build-up to Lunar New Year, over 65,000 people per day will be allowed to enter Hong Kong from the mainland via three land control points without quarantine, and the same for those traveling in the other direction. They are required to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of crossing the border.

During a lunch meeting with the media, Choi revealed that the SAR government is working to allow cross-border students to provide rapid antigen test results in place of PCR test results to make their journeys more convenient.

Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin said she expects about 7,500 secondary and nearly 13,000 primary school and kindergarten students to return to Hong Kong after Lunar New Year

She said she expects about 7,500 secondary and nearly 13,000 primary school and kindergarten students to return to Hong Kong after Lunar New Year.

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Choi said her department is negotiating with the mainland authorities to reopen more border checkpoints, such as Lo Wu Control Point, to facilitate cross-boundary students traveling between Hong Kong and the mainland.

The government also plans to resume school bus services by mid-February after detailed surveys are completed into the needs of students, Choi said.

Also in the meeting, Choi said the government will gradually resume education exchanges and cooperation with the Chinese mainland.

From the 2021/22 school year, the Hong Kong Education Bureau replaced the Liberal Studies subject with Citizenship and Social Development for students from Secondary Four to Secondary Six in an effort to enhance their national education. Study tours to the main-land are part of the new curriculum to provide students with first-hand knowledge of the country’s development.

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Choi also said the Education Bureau plans to organize study tours to the mainland as early as April. Students can choose from 21 routes, including 12 one-day trips to Guangdong province. Choi said she and school principals will inspect the routes in March.

In addition, two mainland schools in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will be allowed to hold the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination as soon as 2024, according to Choi.

In June 2022, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority allowed eligible schools in the mainland to host the DSE exams.

Choi said the arrangement brings great convenience to Hong Kong families living on the mainland, as they no longer need to return to Hong Kong to sit examinations. She said she believes that there will be more schools from other mainland cities joining the arrangement in the future.