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Letters | Support needed as emotions run high with Hong Kong’s return to full-day classes

News of Hong Kong schools returning to full-day classes after three years of Covid-19 disruptions may have touched off mixed emotions in the community. It is only natural that students will have all kinds of feelings about returning to the classroom fully. Some may perhaps be nervous about keeping up over a whole school day, or still worried about their peers and themselves catching Covid-19. Some might be enthusiastic and eager about full classes and spending more time with fellow students.

The exacerbated stress that comes with school calls for a greater focus on the emotional well-being of students. Accordingly, we at Just Feel have expanded our relationship-building curriculum to tackle the adjustments that students will go through as they return to whole-day classes, including any difficulties they may encounter and events they may anticipate. Teachers are also empowered to facilitate sharing among the class, using tools such as feelings thermometers and feelings and needs cards to empathise with students, and help them support each other.

For example, at one of our partner schools, teachers have taken their training in compassionate communication and social-emotional learning a step further in cultivating a compassionate school culture – by introducing habitual check-in sessions in their meetings. This will surely be beneficial in helping all staff settle into the new daily routine.

Everyone’s experience of Covid-19 has been distinct, and the lifting of restrictions may mean different things to some. Engaging in open, respectful and regular conversations about our feelings and needs is important, and it is something that we would like to promote. While students have the chance to explore the challenges they could face, teachers and parents could also take some time to reflect on the feelings they may have as they too readjust to a normal schedule. Let us work together to support each other and prepare for a smooth transition back to full-day classes.

Raymond Yang Sze-ngai, co-founder and executive director, Just Feel


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