Daily US Times: South Korean high school students are back in the classroom for the first time in three months, but in many ways, it is not as usual schooling.
As high school seniors returned to school Wednesday, they wore masks on campus, had their temperatures checked, and sat at desks that were spaced apart, in line with commonplace social distancing practices.
But within hours of reopening, dozens of schools in Incheon were forced to shut again after two students tested positive for coronavirus.
South Korea has reported more than 11,100 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths so far. The country appears to have its outbreak largely under control. Now, authorities are trying to get back to something approaching normal life.
But the country’s experience shows that reopening schools doesn’t mean a return to normal — and carries continued risks.
Other countries that have managed to control their outbreaks are facing similar questions when it comes to education.
In New Zealand, students around the country headed back to school on Monday after eight weeks at home. New Zealand has been praised for its swift approach to controlling the outbreak.
In parts of Australia, children are already back at school.
In China, students began going back to school in March, according to state news agency Xinhua. Education Ministry said earlier this month, that about 40% of students were back in the classroom.
The subject is tricky- even though coronavirus symptoms in children tend to be mild, but some studies suggested that kids can play a major role in spreading the virus to each other and to vulnerable adults, raising the risk of another wave of infections.
A new normal for classrooms
Even when countries reopen schools, that doesn’t mean a return to the old ways. In South Korea, students are not all heading back to schools at once. Students in South Korea haven’t been in the classroom since before the spring break in February.
Students normally go back to school at the start of March, but the start of the spring semester was delayed until early April, when students began the new school year with online classes.
For seniors in high school, Wednesday was the first day to get back to school life, but students from other grades will be returning over the next few weeks. By June 8, students of all ages are expected to be back at school.
South Korea’s Ministry of Education on Monday urged disease prevention inside and outside schools.