‘Loss of humanity’ in Covid era: Chinese city backtracks after it expelled student because his parents hid travel history

·3-min read

A local government in northeastern China has rescinded a decision by the education department to expel a secondary school student because his parents violated Covid-19 prevention policies after it received fierce backlash from the public.

The school in Suihua, a small city in Heilongjiang province, initially expelled the student because his parents did not report their travel history to the school as local Covid-19 regulations required.

The parents had travelled outside the city without the boy but did not report this to the school when they returned on April 11, and the teenager had continued to go to school as usual.

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The school issued a statement on Monday that said the family had caused “serious consequences”. Photo: QQ.com
The school issued a statement on Monday that said the family had caused “serious consequences”. Photo: QQ.com

According to a statement issued by the education department on Monday that soon went viral in China, the parents were later identified as close contacts of a Covid-19 patient and, because the student had gone to school, his teachers, classmates and their families had to isolate themselves.

The statement said the family’s behaviour “had caused serious consequences … and we decided to expel this student”. It never mentioned whether anybody involved in the situation tested positive.

The news was met with shock and condemnation in China.

Zhu Xiaoding, a lawyer at Beijing Cailiang Law Firm, said: “Expelling the student and depriving his rights to education is not only destroying the hope of a child and his family, but it also ruins the whole school and all the families who attend.”

“It shows how local education authorities have lost their humanity as well as their qualifications and ability to educate people. These wicked trends will put the education system in danger if we do nothing about it,” he said.

On Weibo, a user asked: “Why should the child be punished for his parents’ wrongdoing?” Another called the decision the “very disease we should cure at the moment.”

In a separate statement on Tuesday, the city government admitted the punishment was wrong and blamed the education department and the school for “misunderstanding the epidemic control policies” which led to “an inappropriate decision”.

The government said the decision would be voided, and the school must allow the student to return.

The local government in Suihua ordered the school to allow the expelled student to return. Photo: QQ.com
The local government in Suihua ordered the school to allow the expelled student to return. Photo: QQ.com

Suihua is not the only local government that has resorted to extreme measures as China fights its worst coronavirus outbreak driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

In Dachang county, Hebei province, the entire county was locked down for 17 days last month, despite the city not reporting any confirmed cases.

The ongoing lockdown in Shanghai, which began on March 28, has become a global story and put many municipal governments on high alert as they try to avoid a similar fate.

On Tuesday, China added over 19,800 local infections, of which 86 per cent were asymptomatic. Most of the cases were from Shanghai.

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