May 15, 2020 10:35
Parents are on edge as schools are set to reopen because a number of teachers were among the party crowds who visited the new infection hotspot of Itaewon recently.
According to the Ministry of Education, 880 teachers went to nightclubs and bars in Itaewon over the long weekend, 366 of them foreigners who typically work as language instructors in schools and crammers.
One 50-year-old parent whose son attends a large crammer in Gangnam said, "The crammer closed down temporarily three times already, so my son has not been able to prepare properly for the college entrance exam and I can't tell him not to go there. I don't know what to do."
Itaewon is near the old U.S. military base in Yongsan and its hip restaurants and bars have been a magnet for a young cosmopolitan crowd.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 11 percent of the 10,905 people who have been traced to five Itaewon nightclubs known as the hotspots of infection from April 24 to May 6 via mobile phone GPS records were foreigners.
Rumors are also spreading on chatrooms frequented by parents that foreign instructors at crammers in Itaewon are not as concerned about coronavirus infections as Koreans are.
Crammers are trying to calm jitters. One language school in downtown Seoul said it conducted an exhaustive investigation of its teachers' movements. One staffer said, "We had to close down temporarily, and the discovery of an infected teacher would be disastrous."
One English-language kindergarten in Yongsan requires instructors to report their daily movements.
One staffer at the kindergarten said, "We were concerned at first that instructors might complain about invasion of their privacy, but most of them are cooperating because they have already been unable to work for about two months due to the epidemic."
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