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(LEAD) Students to self-monitor virus symptoms ahead of school reopening

National 17:26 May 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 7-9)

SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's education ministry on Thursday unveiled updated quarantine guidelines for schools ahead of their scheduled reopening this month, such as asking students to self-monitor possible symptoms.

The guidelines, fixed after consultations with health authorities, mandate that students and staff check their health conditions on a daily basis and report to schools, starting a week prior to school reopening.

For high school seniors set to return to school next week, this process goes into effect Thursday.

Questions include whether they have a fever of above 37.5 C or have suspected symptoms, such as nausea, loss of taste and smell and difficulty in breathing, according to the education ministry.

Students and teachers would also have to report whether they have traveled abroad in the past two weeks or have family members who have traveled abroad or are under self-quarantine.

The education ministry said those who report having any of the symptoms or family-related factors would be banned from coming to school. Their absent days will be excluded from attendance records, it added.

Health authorities disinfect a high school cafeteria in the southeastern Seoul ward of Songpa on May 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Health authorities disinfect a high school cafeteria in the southeastern Seoul ward of Songpa on May 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

The new guidelines also give students and parents the option to study from home for a certain period until the country's disease alert level is lowered to the third-highest level or below in the four-tier system.

South Korea has maintained the highest "red" alert since raising it on Feb. 23.

Students with underlying diseases will be allowed to stay at home, while healthy students can also request to study at home for up to about 20 days, according to the ministry.

The guidelines, meanwhile, also mandate that students and teachers wear face masks at all times -- except for meal times -- and keep windows opened when using air conditioners.

Schools across the country are set to reopen starting next week after being closed for the past few months as part of precautionary measures against COVID-19.

The reopening is scheduled to be carried out in phases for added safety, starting with high school seniors on May 13 and ending with grade one of middle school and grades five and six in elementary school on June 1.


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