School will be suspended all day if red or black rainstorm warnings are issued before 8am, but classes should continue if warnings are issued after 8am, the government announced last week.
Whether students need to go to school or not will be made clear when a red or black rainstorm warning signal is issued.
The new arrangement was drawn up with the Observatory after the public criticised a red rainstorm warning being issued when many students were already on their way to school one day in May.
But school principals doubted the new system, pointing out most students would have arrived at or be on their way to school between 7.45am and 8am. Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen slammed the Education Bureau for not consulting students, parents and schools first.
Under the new system – which covers all half-day and whole-day kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools – if the storm warning is issued when students are already on their way to school, they should decide whether to continue or head back based on how heavy the rain is, as well as road and traffic conditions at that time.
For afternoon-only sessions, classes will be suspended if the warnings are issued between 10.30am and 1pm; otherwise, they should continue.
But Raymond Lai Tsz-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads Association, said suspending school simultaneously with storm warnings only solved part of the problem, and 8am was still awkward timing. He said that although most schools started classes at around 8am, some began at 7.30am and others at 9am.