Hundreds of thousands of South Korean students returned to school this Wednesday, when educational establishments began to reopen after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Students lined up for body temperature checks and received hand washing disinfectants upon entering school facilities, where teachers waited and waved occasionally with blows on the elbows.
"It is really exciting to meet my friends and teachers face to face, but we have to strictly follow the disinfection guidelines", said Oh Chang-hwa, president of the student center at Kyungbock High School in Seoul.
"I'm very concerned, but it's still nice to see them again."said Oh to AFP.
South Korea suffered one of the worst initial outbreaks of the new virus, and at one point was the second most affected nation after mainland China, prompting officials to delay reopening of schools in early March.
But it appears to have controlled the outbreak thanks to an extensive "trace, test, and treat" program.
Around 440,000 seniors, who will take the university entrance exam in December - a crucial step in an education-obsessed country - are the first to return to school, and other years will follow in stages over the next few weeks. .
Inside schools, students are asked to clean their desks and feel separated according to social distancing guidelines. and some classes even installed divisions between the desks.
"Concerns about small clusters of infection still persist and no one can predict what kind of situation will arise in schools," said Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae.
The ministry began operating a 24-hour emergency room this week, Yoo said, adding that any schools reporting new infections will be closed immediately.
It was what happened in Incheon, near Seoul, where 66 schools closed their doors again shortly after the arrival of the students, since two of them were diagnosed with COVID-19, reported the Municipal Office of Education.
While seniors must attend school every day, younger students will alternate face-to-face and online classes to ensure that school buildings are not overcrowded.
(With information from AFP)
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