Seoul, May 20 (efe-epa).- Schools in South Korea began a gradual reopening on Wednesday amid signs of control of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
High school seniors returned to class on Wednesday while the remaining students will resume in a phased process that will last until June 8.
The new academic year was due to start on Mar. 2 but was pushed back to May 13 and then postponed again to Wednesday after the emergence of a new COVID-19 outbreak in Seoul.
However, South Korea began the new school year with online classes from Apr. 9 as an interim measure before the reopening of schools.
Although only high school students returned to class on Wednesday, in institutions with less than 60 students, all were allowed to enter.
The reopening of schools is being carried out in accordance with a protocol established by the authorities to prevent possible infection among students.
The guidelines, which were released on Tuesday by the education ministry, include a daily review of the physical condition of students and dictate that they stay home in the event they are sick.
The rules also stipulate that desks be wiped every morning before classes begin, classroom windows be opened for ventilation, masks be used at all times except for lunch, and hands be washed for 30 seconds.
“I understand that this is not an easy path we are on, but we have to go through this one time, as it is uncertain when the COVID-19 pandemic might end,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said during the briefing, according to local news agency Yonhap.
South Korea, one of the first countries to be affected by the novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has recorded 11,110 COVID-19 cases and 263 deaths, with 10,066 people so far recovered from the disease.
The Asian country, which has not imposed restrictions on the mobility of citizens during the coronavirus epidemic, managed to control the spread of the disease with an intensive tracking system, mass testing and widespread hospitalization.
Only 32 new infections and zero deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, according to official data. EFE-EPA