Students in black join a strike on the first day of school at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019.
Photo: Vincent Yu (AP)

Tens of thousands of students in Hong Kong participated in a widespread strike by boycotting their first day of classes Monday. They joined hundreds of thousands of other protesters who have been calling for democracy and government accountability over the past three months.

Approximately 30,000 students attended a rally at the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, according to Jacky So, the president of the university student union.

“Schools should not be used as places for political demands or exercising pressure,” said Hong Kong Education Secretary Kevin Yeung.

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Students were dressed in black, or their white uniforms, as well as face masks and yellow helmets.

Owen Lo, a high school student, told the New York Times that “the government thinks it can quell the movement when students return to school, because we can only come out during the summer, but that’s not true.

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He added: “seeing so many students selflessly gambling their future to express their demands to the government, it is infectious, and makes me want to come out and do something for Hong Kong.”

Another high school student, Jessie Cheung, told the Times that she had not skipped a march since June. She explained her thought process as she considered future college applications: “On the one hand, I have to care about my grades, and on the other, I need to perform my civic duty.”