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More elementary school students set to resume classes online amid pandemic

All News 07:00 April 20, 2020

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- More elementary school students in South Korea were set to start the spring semester with online classes Monday amid concerns that cluster infections with the new coronavirus linger.

The move marks the full opening of the new school year with remote learning for about 5.4 million elementary, middle and high school students across the country.

Grades one to three at elementary schools are scheduled to begin the new semester with online classes Monday under the government's three-step plan to open the new school year, depending on grades.

The new school year, which usually starts in March, was postponed by five weeks to April 6 over concerns that schools are vulnerable to cluster infections of COVID-19. The plan was again put off by a few days to give schools time to prepare for remote classes.

As part of the government's unprecedented move to open online classes nationwide, middle and high school students in their third and final year first returned to school on April 9.

A week later, the second group -- first and second graders at middle and high schools, as well as grades four to six at elementary schools, followed suit. Kindergartens and child care centers have shut down indefinitely.

Remote learning platforms provided by the government and education-focused broadcaster EBS remained unstable and access was often delayed, drawing complaints from students and parents.

Education authorities plan to mostly use EBS broadcasts in case of first and second graders at elementary schools as they would have difficulty taking the initiative in learning and communicating with teachers via smart devices.

Some cautiously expect that students may be able to return to their classrooms sooner than expected, as the daily number of new virus cases has recently dropped below 30.

But public health authorities have voiced caution over opening schools for the time being due to the possibility that group infections could spike up like cases in Singapore.

Twin sisters, both of whom are in grade three at middle schools, take online classes at home in Seoul on April 9, 2020, as South Korea begins the new school year. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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