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Govt. to announce school reopening plans this week

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The government is set to soon announce dates for students to return to school in line with the country's relaxed social distancing guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of waning here.

"South Korea will implement the everyday life quarantine scheme starting Wednesday," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday during a meeting on the government's response to COVID-19.

The government earlier said it will move on to the everyday life quarantine scheme when the number of new infections remain below 50. South Korea has been seeing that for the past 25 days.

"We will sequentially push for our children to take classes at school. The education minister will announce the detailed schedule and method tomorrow," Chung said.

The shift to everyday life quarantine raises hope that students may be able to return to school this month.

While the exact date is set to be unveiled in the press briefing, some hold the view that school may resume around May 18-20, which would give health and education authorities enough time to gauge the impact of the so-called golden holiday.

South Koreans are on an extended holiday, with key calendar events such as Buddha's Birthday, Labor Day and Children Day's falling between April 30 and May 5. Many people are expected to travel or meet relatives during this period, making social distancing difficult.

There is, however, the possibility that high school seniors may return to school a week earlier due to schedules related to the national college entrance exam that takes place in November each year. This year, the exam has been postponed to December.

South Korean kindergartens and elementary, middle and high schools -- which usually start the new school year in March -- have remained closed for the past two months.

The government postponed the new school term by five weeks to April, when grade school students resumed classes online for the first time in the country's history of education.

Online classes opened gradually, with high school and middle school seniors taking classes starting April 9, followed by grades 1-2 at middle schools and high schools and elementary grades 4-6 on April 16. Online classes for lower grades at elementary schools opened on April 20.

Kindergartens and child care centers continue to remain closed, only offering emergency child care for eligible households. (Yonhap)
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