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More students to resume classes online amid virus woes

All News 07:00 April 16, 2020

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- Students across South Korea are set to return to school Thursday but stay home for online classes as concerns over new coronavirus cluster infections linger.

Under the government's three-step plan, first and second grades at middle schools and high schools, as well as grades four to six at elementary schools, are scheduled to begin the new semester through remote learning.

The government had earlier postponed the new school year, which usually starts in March, by five weeks to April 6. The plan was once again updated as unexpected cluster infections broke out in various parts of the country.

This photo, taken April 9, 2020, shows Hwajung High School senior Lee Ye-ji taking online classes from her home in Goyang, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

In a bid to strike a balance between providing classes and containing the new coronavirus, the government decided to resume classes online, the first case in which all schools across the country took part in remote learning.

The government broke down students into three groups depending on their grades for this unprecedented scheme.

Seniors at middle schools and high schools first returned to school through online classes last week. The final group -- grades one to three at elementary schools -- are set to begin online classes Monday. Kindergartens and child care centers have shut down indefinitely.

A history teacher at Doseon High School in eastern Seoul is seen filming an online class on April 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

More recently, there have been views that students may return to their classrooms sooner than expected as the daily number of new infections has dropped below 50.

South Korea reported 27 new cases Tuesday, bringing the country's total infections to 10,564.

This marks a sharp drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases and a sixth straight day in which new cases have stayed below 50.

Health authorities, however, have voiced caution over opening schools for the time being.

"They say the road going down is more difficult and dangerous," Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press briefing Saturday.

"Singapore had resumed school but soon shifted to home-based learning," the official said. "We have to keep our eyes on how patients are increasing in some Asian countries that were seen to have successfully contained (the virus)."

mlee@yna.co.kr
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