High school seniors become first to head back to school in South Korea

smolaw11/iStockBy HAKYUNG KATE LEE, ABC News

(SEOUL, South Korea) — High school students lined up in front of school gates across South Korea on Wednesday as they waited to get their temperature checked and sanitize their hands one by one. But, after months of delay, high school seniors were the first to come back to school in the country.

As schools will resume classes in stages, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) stressed the importance of social distancing to prevent infections in schools. Desks and chairs in classrooms and cafeterias were rearranged to keep maximum distance between students and some schools even adopted partitions in the cafeteria and advised students to refrain from chatting with friends during recess.

The KCDC asked all school staff and students to wear masks in school and abide by personal hygiene measures like coughing into their arms and washing hands. Anyone entering the school building must also double-check their body temperature. If an individual shows any COVID-19 symptoms or fever of 37.5 C, that person will then be sent to the nearest COVID-19 test site in an ambulance.

“When someone inside the school is confirmed [with COVID-19], all staff and students will be sent home wearing masks, while local authorities and a task force team get to epidemiological investigation and disinfection,” Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the KCDC, said in a briefing on Wednesday.

High school seniors are the first to resume classes on May 20. First, second, ninth and 11th grade students will follow a week after. The rest will be back to school in the following weeks of June.

The Education Ministry has recommended each school to operate in a flexible manner to maintain maximum distance between students like starting classes at different times and utilizing online lessons.

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