South Korea begins new school year in hope of more in-person classes
Seoul, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- Schools in South Korea opened for the new session on Tuesday amid hopes that relaxed Covid-19 restrictions and the vaccination drive that began last week will allow students to attend more face-to-face classes in the second year of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Education, in January, revised its health protocols for the first half of the academic year to let students have more in-person classes in 2021 after a year of disruption by the pandemic.
The government exempted daycare centers, kindergartens, and first and second-grade classes at elementary schools from attendance rules.
Thanks to that, hundreds of thousands of preschoolers and first and second graders of elementary schools started their schooling with classrooms filled to the capacities for the first time in months.
The exemptions, however, are to be applied up until Level 2 of the country’s five-tier Covid-19 restriction system.
The greater Seoul area is currently under Level 2 while the rest of the country is under Level 1.5.
The protocol required that once the Health Ministry activated the Level 2 restrictions based on the regional volume of infections, only one-third (in the case of preschool, primary and secondary school) and two-thirds (high school) of the total students in each classroom could attend classes simultaneously.
The remaining one-third or two-thirds had to attend online classes, based on rotation to ensure that all students had the same proportion of in-person and online class hours.
South Korea, especially the capital region, was in the grip of the third-wave of infections that began by the end of the winter.
The rising infection forced the Covid-19 restrictions to be followed until the end of the last year.
The relaxation for preschools and the first two grades of primary school would continue as long as Level 3 of anti-coronavirus restrictions is not activated.
South Korea began its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 on Feb.26 to immunize the majority of its population by November.
South Korea, which has adopted no confinements or closed borders, is one of the countries that has best managed the pandemic.
It has registered just over 90,000 infections and more than 1,600 deaths from Covid-19.
The 14-day incidence rate in the country is 11.09 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. EFE-EPA