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3 million masks stored for kindergarten, elementary students: Education Ministry


South Korea’s Ministry of Education has stocked up about 3 million small medical masks for kindergarteners and first and second grade students ahead of the planned reopening of schools next week, the ministry said Monday.

Some 2.2 million masks have been secured on top of 764,000 that the government previously had on hand for immediate distribution by school in case a student shows symptoms of the novel coronavirus or tests positive, according to the Education Ministry.

It has also separately prepared 560,000 masks for students in emergency child care run by kindergartens and elementary schools.

The ministry said it will provide support accordingly to obtain mid- to large-sized medical masks for students in grades three to six as well as middle and high schools and special purpose schools.

Regarding overall mask supply, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the shortage will ease soon.

“Taking into consideration the rise in melt blown filter production starting tomorrow alongside progress so far, I’d expect difficulty (in mask supply) to abate in April,” Chung said during a COVID-19-related meeting.

He added the government will look into ways to enhance the distribution of masks once supply stabilizes.

Amid concerns of the disease spreading at schools, the Education Ministry announced last week plans to prepare one medical mask and two cotton masks for each student and teacher in kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school.

Masks are to be worn in classes if the current alert level persists, the ministry said.

The ministry also plans to prepare over 20 million masks jointly with regional education offices.

By Kim Bo-gyung (