Schools reopen in Seoul amid falling COVID-19 cases

Seoul, Sep 21 (efe-epa).- Schools in South Korea’s capital region re-opened on Monday amid a decline in COVID-19 infections after a surge in cases in August prompted local authorities to close schools for nearly a month.

Since new cases began to rise in the middle of last month, most schools in Seoul and surrounding areas, home to 26 million people – more than half the country’s population – closed on Aug. 26 and moved their classes online.

The only exception was senior students in their final year of high school, who are due to take crucial university entrance exams in November and therefore have continued a mix of online and in-person classes.

From Monday, all schools in the cities of Seoul and Incheon and the surrounding Gyeonggi province began to open in a phased manner for the rest of the students.

Only one-third of the total students in a class in primary and secondary schools and two-thirds in high schools are allowed to physically attend school at a given time. The other third/two-thirds must attend school “online” and the shifts for both groups are rotated throughout the week

The South Korean Ministry of Education said Monday that it will closely monitor the spread of the virus until Oct. 11 to determine whether to expand or reduce the number of students attending school on-site.

Following the rise in coronavirus cases in August, the South Korean authorities appear to have managed to control the surge in infections, once again owing to its comprehensive tracking system and the tightening of social distancing measures in the capital region, which, among other things, involved the closure of cafes, restaurants and bars by 9 pm for two weeks.

The country reported only 70 new cases on Monday, of which 55 are local infections, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Since the start of the epidemic in January, the country has only recorded 23,045 COVID-19 infections and 385 deaths, for a fatality rate of 1.67 percent. EFE-EPA


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