Transcript of Secretary for Education after attending Legco meeting

    Following is a transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, during a media session after attending the Legco meeting today (March 12):

Reporter: ...what criteria will you apply in making the decision?

Secretary for Education: I'm afraid it's a quite complex problem because every school has a different situation. So it would not be appropriate for us, to set a certain number as the criteria.

    Our regional education officers are constantly in touch with the schools on the ground. They get the latest figures from the schools regarding the number of children falling sick and some may require hospitalisation.

    So after we¡¦ve got all the facts, regional education officers will get in touch with the health authorities. Then, on the basis of the facts, they will have to decide whether there is a case for closing the school.

Reporter: quick could you make a decision because it might require something very fast?

Secretary for Education: It can be done very fast because, as I said, our regional education officers are in contact with schools on the ground. They know what¡¦s going on and so we can react very fast, like yesterday.

Reporter: How would they know what the trigger is?

Secretary for Education: The trigger - they will have to confirm with the health authorities, because it¡¦s very important for the actual situation on the ground to be carefully assessed by those who are professionally competent, both in terms of the health requirement and also in terms of educational requirement. So between us and the health authorities together with the school, we are able to come to that sort of decision very quickly.

Reporter: Some parents may be quite worried about the health of their children studying in the school. Is there anything you can say to reassure them?

Secretary for Education: I think all parents should know that if their children have any symptoms at all, they should refrain from sending them to schools because the schoolchildren need rest. And by not sending them to school, it will also reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu. That¡¦s most important. I think insofar as other considerations, such as examinations or school works, are concerned, it is our standard practice that the schools will catch up on those falling behind in terms of assignments and examinations, and if necessary reschedule them.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:22