(ATTN: UPDATES with details from para 3, 5-8; ADDS photo)
By Chang Dong-woo
SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will fully resume in-person school classes next month in line with the government's "living with COVID-19" scheme, the education ministry said Friday.
In-person attendance at kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools will resume nationwide on Nov. 22, following this year's College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), a state-run university entrance exam, on Nov. 18, according to the ministry.
Universities will be allowed to gradually resume in-person classes starting Monday.
The plan is part of the government's "living with COVID-19" scheme to be imposed for the next four weeks as part of a broader plan to gradually lift the virus restrictions by the end of January.
Education authorities have controlled the level of in-person class sizes in line with the government-imposed social distancing scheme. The attendance rate for the Seoul metropolitan area stands at 69.1 percent while that outside of the capital remains at around 94.4 percent.
However, the ministry said it will allow local education authorities to autonomously manage school operations based on specific conditions of regions and individual educational institutions.
Kindergartens will be allowed offer outdoor physical activities to children, and elementary, middle and high schools will be allowed to conduct discussion and debate sessions during classes.
A ministry study showed that student achievement in Korean, math and English fell last year compared with the year before the COVID-19 struck, in an indication of pandemic learning loss amid the prolonged remote learning for students.
Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said the success in resuming school classes depends on whether local communities strictly abide by basic virus protocols. She asked for the public's cooperation.
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