By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- February and March are usually the most celebrated and busiest months in the Korean school calendar. Schools hold graduation ceremonies in February and welcome freshmen at the beginning of March.
But things are likely to be different this year as more and more schools reschedule the milestone events with the potentially fatal new coronavirus showing no signs of abating here.
South Korea has confirmed 18 cases of infection since Jan. 20.
A majority of universities based in the country's capital have canceled graduation ceremonies initially scheduled for February.
Earlier this week, Yonsei University in Seoul posted an online notice, saying it is calling off key school events, including the graduation ceremony and a welcome event for freshmen, to "prevent the spread of the new coronavirus."
The school, however, added it plans to rent out ceremony gowns to graduates as planned.
Yonsei is not the first school to skip key school events.
Sogang University, Kyunghee University, Konkuk University, Sejong University and Ewha Womans University have also called off graduation ceremonies.
Sangmyung University has scaled back its graduation ceremony by limiting attendance to a minimum number and distributing videos of the ceremony instead.
An even larger number of schools have canceled entrance ceremonies for students beginning their college life in March.
The outbreak is expected to affect not only freshmen and graduates, but other students set to begin new school semesters in March.
Schools are especially on alert as some Chinese students may have returned here recently after spending their winter vacation in their home country.
There are also some students who may not be able to return for the time being after an entry ban was imposed on foreigners who have traveled through or from China's Hubei province since Jan. 21.
Sogang University, Chungang University and the University of Seoul plan to postpone the new semester by two weeks, while Kyunghee University will be delaying it by a week.
As of April, there were 69,287 Chinese students enrolled in local universities, accounting for 43.3 percent of all international students, according to the Korean Educational Statistics Service.
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