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S. Korea aims to fully normalize offline classes in H2: PM

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Saturday that South Korea will aim to fully normalize offline classes at local schools later this year amid the country's efforts to speed up its inoculation program.

The country has been operating a mixture of offline and online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Due to the prolonged pandemic, I am concerned about the academic gap among students and their lack of social and emotional connection," Kim in a Facebook message marking Teachers' Day.

"If we focused on preventing the spread of the virus through online classes and disinfection efforts last year, we will now spare no efforts to have students fully return to school in the new semester," he added.

Kim said the government will make efforts to fully vaccinate all teachers from kindergarten to high school by the end of August.

South Korea, which launched its vaccination program in late February, has been focusing on providing jabs to medical staff and senior citizens.

Amid apparent supply shortages, however, only 7.3 percent of the country's 52 million population has received at least one dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer as of Saturday.

The country earlier announced its bold plan to vaccinate 13 million people by June and achieve herd immunity by November.

South Korea reported 681 more COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including 661 local infections, raising the total caseload to 131,061, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. (Yonhap)