Students are attending an elementary school in Seoul on March 14. (Yonhap)
The Education Ministry said Monday it will inject 600 billion won ($492.69 million) into its “education recovery” project to provide academic and psychological support for students that have had to cope with the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
With the social distancing rules in Korea expected to take a new turn in the gradual return to normalcy, the ministry is set to draw up a new guideline for infectious disease control and prevention at schools.
“This week, we will have a meeting with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to revise the quarantine guidelines,” Ryu Hye-suk, head of the ministry’s Student Support Bureau, said during a press briefing held Monday.
Prior to drawing up new guidelines for the next phase of the pandemic, the ministry has announced plans to support students both academically and psychologically while also improving the overall education environment.
To make up for the academic deficit caused by the pandemic, teachers or instructors will run classes for small-sized groups from one to five students during after-school hours or semester breaks. Students who wish to participate can take mathematics, English lessons and more.
College students, enrolled in programs trained to be teachers, are to tutor elementary and middle school students, consulting them on learning, relationships and future prospects.
The ministry also hopes to bring up grades by increasing the number of teachers and teaching faculty members.
While 2,300 schools have been offering a one-class, two-teacher system, this year, 3,000 schools are to offer the program, to provide a more tailored learning environment for students, the ministry said.
Under the plan, the ministry also plans to connect schools with psychiatrists to conduct both virtual and in-person sessions for any students in need.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said the number of confirmed cases in students is receding after peaking in the second week of March, as the overall omicron wave in Korea is slowly leveling off.
While students took up 17.7 percent of the total confirmed cases in Korea in the first week of March, the number went up to 18.6 percent in the second week, falling down to 15 percent in the following week. In the last week of March, the figure stood at 14.6 percent.
More students are attending in-person classes. As of March 28, 86 percent of students were attending face-to-face classes, marking a 3.8 percentage point increase from the 82.2 percent on March 7. Up to 92 percent of kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools across the nation are upholding the “normalcy attendance” scheme, too.
By Im Eun-byel (email@example.com)