Students test positive as Korean schools reopen

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High school seniors at a school in Daejon, South Korea, sit behind plastic screens as a Covid-19 defensive measure. Classes resumed in the country on Wednesday for the first time since December 2019. (Photo by AFP)

SOUTH Korea’s cautious school re-opening was off to a bumpy start on Wednesday (May 27) when students at 66 schools in Incheon, the port city west of Seoul, were sent home only three hours after arriving after two students tested positive.

The Education Ministry has not decided when Incheon students can return to school, as it contract traces the two infected students.

Classes re-started on Wednesday across South Korea for the first time since December 2019 – or at least some classes, with only high school seniors returning. After the high school seniors, other grades will return to classes in a phased process in the weeks ahead.

Online classes have been conducted since mid-April, but with mixed results and multiple complaints.

Wednesday’s school re-opening was later than expected. A cluster of cases that had exploded in the nightlife district of Itaewon in early May postponed the opening by a week.

“We cannot avoid going to school or blindly delaying the opening of schools,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye told a meeting with the superintendents of education in 17 major districts. He cited the special circumstances facing high school students.

There has been concern among many high school seniors and their parents over an extended school closure due to the College Scholastic Ability Test, or CSAT, the all-important university entrance exam. Scheduled for November, the CSAT has been pushed back to December.

Even so, there was already a backlash – even before the Incheon debacle.

As of late Tuesday, about 236,000 people signed a petition on the presidential website, requesting a delay in the reopening of schools due to the possibility of the much-feared “second wave” of the pandemic.

Source: Asia Times

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