South Korea completes reopening schools amid fresh outbreak fears

Seoul, Jun 8 (efe-epa).- South Korea on Monday completed its phased reopening of schools amid the fears of rising number of cases in the region around Seoul.

Some 1.35 million students – in first grade of middle school and the fifth and sixth grades of elementary school – became the last batch of students to resume classes as per the phased reopening plans of the South Korean authorities.

The reopening of schools began on May 20, after the government relaxed social distancing measures in the beginning of last month.

The completion of the phased reopening of schools in Monday marked the return of some 5.95 million school students to their classes, more than three months after their academic session was set to begin in March.

Although schools remained shut, the academic session began in April through online classes.

Despite South Korea being one of the coutnries to have managed the novel coronavirus infections effectively, the reopening of schools has led to concerns among parents across the country, particularly in the capital region.

The region around Seoul is home to some 26 million people – more than half of the national population – and has accounted for more than 90 percent of fresh regular Covid-19 cases.

On Monday, South Korea reported 38 cases, of which 33 were recorded in the region around the capital and resulted from local transmission.

Under the current guidelines, only one-third of total students in a class in primary and secondary schools and two-thirds in high schools will be allowed to physically attend school at a given time.

They will be required to wear a mask at all times and school hours will have a mix of online and in-person classes every day.

Even lunch timings have been phased in order to allow students to maintain safe distance between them and sit facing the same direction to prevent infection through saliva droplets.

Data released by the Ministry of Education last week show that the transmission of infection in schools so far have been limited, with just six students and four staff members infected, since the institutions started reopening.

Each of the schools where cases were reported was closed for days until every student and staff were tested, those who came in direct contact with them were quarantined. EFE-EPA


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