03/31/2020, 18.14
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School year to start 9 April (online)

Usually the school year starts in March, but the authorities were forced to postpone it three times for five weeks because of the COVID-19. It remains uncertain when students will be able to return to class. The virus has infected 9,786 people so far with 163 deaths.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In South Korea, the school year usually begins in March, but this year the authorities have had to postpone the start three times following repeated delays caused by the fear that schools might become COVID-19 hotspots.

Now, lower and upper secondary schools have been given up to a couple of weeks to prepare, with online classes set to start on 9 April. University entrance exams will be postponed until next November. The opening of kindergartens has been postponed indefinitely.

The unprecedented move to introduce online classes at elementary, lower and upper secondary schools will be carried out step by step, depending on grades, the education ministry said.

“To brace for a possible prolonged pandemic and prepare for future education, it is necessary to boldly push for remote classes right now,” said Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae.

In South Korea, primary education last six years; lower and upper secondary school three each.

Under the government plan, lower and upper secondary school students in their third and final year will start to learn online next week.

The first to third graders at elementary schools will receive online remote learning starting 20 April. It remains uncertain when students will be able to go to schools due to a steady rise in infections.

“Taking into consideration the regional trend of infections and school situations, the government will review the flexible operation of school affairs, including running online classes together with offline ones," Yoo said.

The minister cautiously expected that running online and offline classes in parallel may be possible starting in late April.

For many experts, South Korea has been a model in coping with the coronavirus outbreak. The number of new cases of coronavirus have been around a hundred a day for nearly three weeks, but concerns remain.

The first case of infection was reported on 20 January. The total tally now stands at 9,785 with 163 deaths.

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