Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated January 06, 2021
By Mike Cairnduff

Is it safe to teach in China?

Lots of people are asking whether it’s safe to teach in China this year.

In this blog, I’m going to summarize teaching in China from a safety perspective and what you need to consider.

I’ll keep it fairly concise so you can make an informed decision about your plans for 2021.

The impact of COVID-19

Unless you’ve been living under a very big rock, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the way we go about our daily lives.

As far as international work and travel goes, many countries have slammed their borders shut, or at least made it difficult to get in.

At the moment, entering China – unless you’re a citizen – is extremely hard. I’ll talk more about that below.

If you’re already teaching in China

Are you already teaching in China? Lucky you!

For the most part, life in China for teachers has gone back to pre-pandemic normal. There have been a few outbreaks, but these have largely been contained.

In most places, face masks are optional and life is pretty sweet. The virus is essentially non-existent.

If you’re currently in China and considering going back home when your contract ends, just remember that it may be some time before you’re able to return to China.

(Decisions around renewing your contract in China is a whole other story – you can read about that here.)

If you’re thinking about teaching in China

For the rest of us, teaching in China in 2021 is not so clear cut.

At the moment, unless there are exceptional circumstances, new teachers are not being invited to China for health and safety reasons.

Besides, for the handful of people who have managed to make it to China, there are additional entry requirements such as COVID-19 medical tests and hotel quarantine at the traveler’s expense.

So, you’ll need to hold on to your hat and wait it out a little longer.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it will likely involve vaccination.

So will it be safe to teach in China in 2021?

As the nature of the virus changes, and outbreaks keep popping up or even get worse in certain places around the world, we’re all very reliant on the roll-out of the vaccine.

It’s impossible to predict what certain countries will do regarding their border control and quarantine arrangements, and this includes China.

But if I had to hazard a guess, countries will require a vaccination certificate to allow you to enter.

This is similar to the current arrangements for yellow fever when you travel to sub-Saharan Africa or tropical South America.

You may need a COVID-19 vaccine to safely teach in China

You may need a COVID-19 vaccine to safely teach in China in the future.

Under international health regulations, proof of yellow fever vaccination (a certificate with your passport) is compulsory for travel within endemic regions. Proof of vaccine may also be needed to re-enter your country once returning from overseas.

This arrangement may likely be the case for the coronavirus vaccination as well.

For example, Qantas has already announced passengers will in future need to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to board Qantas flights.

Once countries and airlines have bedded down their vaccination requirements, there should be some level of normality that returns, making it relatively easy to teach and travel overseas again.

When that happens, it will be very safe to teach in China, as it always has been.

I've got my fingers crossed that everything is back up and running in time for Semester 1, in September. But, like we all experienced in 2020, things can change at a moment's notice.

It’s unsafe to teach illegally

It goes without saying that it’s never safe to teach in China illegally.

The horror stories you hear about teachers being deported is usually because they were working on the wrong visa, like a tourist visa.

You must have a Z visa, sponsored by a Chinese school, to teach in China legally. The best way to get this is to go through a reputable recruiter (like Hello Teacher!).

I touched on this the other day, when I wrote about teach in China contracts.

Why aren’t teachers being encouraged to go to China now?

The virus is still prevalent in many places around the world, and China doesn’t want the virus spreading through its population again.

This could cause major problems on Chinese society and the economy, as well as the international ramifications of slow growth.

The health advice of most countries is to avoid all non-essential overseas travel.

While the vaccine has started to be administered in a few countries, it will take some time before everyone has the chance to get it.

In the meantime, international work and travel arrangements are still up in the air.

Here’s what you can do

If you want to teach in China in the future, there are a few things you can do now to be best prepared.

Do lots of research on the cities that you might like to teach in, the kind of school you’d be comfortable in, and the level of students you’d like to teach.

Here's a good article to help get you started on that.

Assuming you already have a non-teaching bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to complete a TEFL course that’s at least 120 hours.

If you’re currently in some sort of lockdown, this makes online study easy!

Do your TEFL course until it's safe to go to China

Complete your TEFL course while you wait for the go-ahead to safely teach in China.

There’s information about TEFL here, and you can choose an affordable, online TEFL course here.

If you can’t decide on a course, take a read of this TEFL review I wrote. It should make it easier for you.

Then, when you’re ready, apply to teach in China (knowing that you won’t be interviewed until the COVID-19 situation changes).

Of course, make sure you get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to you. This is likely the key to being able to fly again.

Further reading about safety and teaching in China

If you’re very safety conscious, you’ll find these blogs helpful:

Safety is always the number one priority

When you go overseas, your health and safety should always be your first priority.

You should follow the travel advice of the country you live in, as well as the rules of the country you’re going to.

Recruiters that are actively encouraging you to travel to China now are doing the wrong thing.

Please remember to be patient, and stay safe.

Did you like my blog? If you really want to arm yourself with the best information about teaching in China, make sure you read my epic 91 tips for teaching in China. I cover every nook and cranny!


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