2.37M students attend school under ‘distancing in daily life’
May 29, 2020
Global Korean Post
By Kim Hyelin and Yoon Sojung
An estimated 2.37 million elementary, middle and high school students on May 27 went to class under the second phase of the opening of the 2020 school year.
This came after a delay of almost three months from the original date due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Ministry of Education said it decided to begin as scheduled the school year, kindergarten and daycare as it could no longer postpone it further because of the difficulty in predicting the end of the pandemic and the potential occurrence of a second wave in autumn.
Two-thirds of high schoolers, including seniors who began attending school last week, will go to class under the second phase of the school year’s start that also includes a third of middle schoolers and elementary school students.
Unlike high school seniors, who must attend school daily to prepare for the college entrance exam or employment, the ministry recommended that schools implement various forms of class management such as running both online and offline classes to reduce class density. Schools will run classes every other day for selected grades, every other week, or even morning and afternoon classes to divide students while considering the individual circumstances of each school.
For first and second graders of elementary school who need more care than those in higher grades, the ministry will provide daycare for them even if they have classes every other day or biweekly to prevent gaps in care.
For kindergarten, children will have both offline and online classes, and after-class programs will be available for toddlers who need care.
If parents opt not to send their children to school and instead homeschool them due to fears over COVID-19, the ministry will consider this outdoor education and count such children’s attendance.
Ahead of the second phase of school opening, the ministry on May 24 announced disinfection measures to ensure student safety. They included compulsory mask wearing for both teachers and students, checking temperature when entering a school, maintaining proper distance and strict personal hygiene, monitoring students suspected of infection and sending them to select medical centers, and keeping distance especially during meal time.
On the second stage of school opening, President Moon Jae-in on May 26 ordered thorough disinfection preparation for schools and distancing in daily life in an online Cabinet meeting, saying, “Reopening schools after a long delay will be a test for the success of maintaining infectious disease prevention and control in our daily lives.”