Full Reopening of Schools Postponed

  • By You So-yeon

    August 20, 2020 12:51

    The government has canceled the full reopening of schools for the fall semester amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

    So far schools in the capital region had been told to decide on reopening at their own discretion to ensure some degree of social distancing, while those in other areas were about to resume daily classes once students returned from their summer break.

    But a video conference Wednesday with 17 regional education superintendents and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae agreed to keep numbers in attendance below two-thirds per day until Sept. 11.

    This applies to all areas, not just Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province and Busan, where social distancing rules have been tightened recently. Students will therefore attend classes only two or three days a week.

    A teacher holds an online class from an elementary school in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Even elementary schools in Seoul had hoped that it would be possible to push for a full reopening for first and second graders. There were worries about a possible decline in children's achievements as a result of reduced school days, while parents had become tired of taking care of their kids at home.

    But the situation changed abruptly as infections resurged last week. About half of the 190 infections among students and teachers since May 20, when high school seniors were allowed to come back to school, occurred over the last eight days.

    Some 619 large crammers with more than 300 students in the capital region shut down as social distancing regulations were tightened on Wednesday.

    Universities are also canceling their plans to reopen in favor of continuing online classes in the fall semester. More students are likely demand a refund of their tuition fees if universities cannot function.

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