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First graders return to school

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Most first graders nationwide will go to school everyday starting Monday as schools can now take in up to two thirds of their students under eased social distancing rules.

The government lowered the level of social distancing measures to Phase 1 on Oct. 12, allowing kindergartens through high schools to take in up to two thirds of their students, up from a third of their enrollment.

A weeklong grace period was given by the Education Ministry before the eased quota limit was applied from Monday.

Schools outside the Seoul metropolitan area, which do not have huge student enrollments or overcrowded classes, are expected to have all of their students report to school.

The ministry said the cap on the percentage of pupils reporting to school will be strictly applied only to schools with exceptionally high numbers of students enrolled or overcrowded classes, as well as schools in the Seoul metropolitan area.

Other schools can decide for themselves how many pupils they can have in a day.

Some of the schools with exceptionally large student enrollments or overcrowded classes are staggering arrival times and dividing the classes into morning and afternoon sessions.

Schools in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province cannot have all of their students report to school, but first graders will be an exception.

First graders can go to school everyday in Seoul and Incheon.

In Gyeonggi Province, both first and second graders can go to school everyday or four days a week.

Due to the restrictions, third to sixth graders can go to school two to four days a week in the Seoul metropolitan area.

In Seoul and Incheon, first-year students in middle schools can also go to school more often compared to sophomores and seniors as they need to adjust to their new schools.

As the disease prevention work, preparation for classes, staggered arrival times, morning and afternoon sessions are expected to increase teachers’ workloads, the ministry is hiring some 47,000 people, up 7,000 compared to the first semester, to support disease prevention at schools nationwide.

The ministry hopes the learning gap between pupils that was widened during months of remote learning could be bridged as more kids go to school.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)

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