The Korea Herald


Korea closed schools longer than US, Japan amid pandemic: data

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Dec. 10, 2021 - 16:23

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A teacher at a high school in Seoul gives an online class in March 2020. (Yonhap) A teacher at a high school in Seoul gives an online class in March 2020. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- South Korea was found to have conducted longer closures of on-the-spot classes at schools than other countries amid the pandemic situation, a state-run statistics agency said Friday.

According to Statistics Korea, Korea closed elementary, middle and high schools for 68 weeks (77.3 percent) of the 88 weeks from March 2020 to October 2021. The closure includes partial or full-fledged (all schools nationwide) shutdown of offline classes.

“This is longer than the 62-week closure (70.5 percent) in the same period in the US, 12 weeks (13.6 percent) in France and 11 weeks (12.5 percent) in Japan,” said the agency.

The length of physical class closures in Korea was also longer than Australia, Germany and Finland in the same time frame.

Statistics Korea said it has cited research data from a local college professor and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In a survey of teachers working at schools in Gyeonggi Province, the most populous area among the 17 major cities and provinces in Korea, a dominant portion of them responded that there “were no major issues” in instructing the content of textbooks via online classes, said the agency.

“But most teachers pointed out restrictions in building relationships with students and improving communication skills of students during remote classes,” it said.

Alongside the change in the educational environment, Statistics Korea highlighted massive business closures of the self-employed in the wake of COVID-19.

During the March 2020-February 2021 period, the number of self-employed in the wholesale and retail segment decreased by 52,000, compared to the same period of 2019-2020.

The tally for on-year declines was 39,000 in private education, 28,000 in construction and 22,000 in food services-lodging segment.

The agency also suggested that the pandemic has drastically changed figures for a variety of social sectors, such as employment, culture activities and marriage rates.