Beijing schools prepare for reopening with emergency plans

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/14 0:43:40

Students attend a class at a high school in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, April 13, 2020. Students in their final year of senior and junior high schools in Zhejiang returned to school for their new semester. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)

China's capital is preparing cautiously to resume classes for graduating students at middle and high schools as the epidemic ebbs, and some students and teachers told the Global Times they are confident that cluster infections in schools are unlikely. 

Most other provinces and cities will reopen schools at the end of April as China has reported near zero domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases since March. Only Hubei Province, the hardest-hit region, has yet to announce reopening dates. 

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education on Monday posted answers to the top 30 questions regarding school resumption. It said on Sunday that graduating students in high schools will return on April 27, and graduating students at middle schools will return on May 11.

Beijing requires teachers to wear masks in classrooms, and students to wear masks all time in schools, said the commission.

All students and teachers will undergo temperature checks before they enter the campus. Anyone with a fever will be first put under observation at temporary checkpoints and sent to a hospital if necessary. Inside schools, students and faculty members should also take temperature checks twice a day. 

Schools will establish a health tracking system to report students' and teachers' health conditions to Beijing authorities.

Schools will launch an emergency plan immediately if any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case occurs, and they will suspend classes or even close the school to ensure the safety of students and faculty members, said the commission. 

The father of a senior student at the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China died of COVID-19 in late January after attending parents' meetings, triggering fear of cluster infections in the school. The school later confirmed no other teachers and students were infected.

Students, parents and teachers interviewed by the Global Times on Monday said they are optimistic that Beijing, which is still at the highest-level response for the COVID-19 epidemic, can prevent a resurgence of infections.

A senior class teacher surnamed Liu in a key middle school in Beijing told the Global Times on Monday that he and his students expect to return to school and prepare for the senior high school entrance examination this July.

Liu and his students are not concerned about infection risks as they trust the government and schools, he said. 

Liu said that his school has offered teachers supplies including masks, goggles and disinfectants. The school has regularly sanitized its campus since February and offered psychological consultations to both students and teachers, he said.

"I told my students about protective measures to be taken after school resumes through livestreaming classes, such as wearing masks and replacing hand touches with nods," Liu said. 

Some parents expressed confidence in the capital's ability to prevent transmissions in schools, but they also said one can't be too careful.

A father of a Beijing No.8 Middle School student suggested that schools should restrict the number of students in each classroom so that students would have enough space to maintain physical distance. 

Zhong Nanshan, who heads a Chinese team of top experts advising the central government on its handling of the virus, said on Friday that schools are likely to open by the end of April. 

As the disease can't be completely eliminated, reopening schools will be possible as long as there isn't a large-scale outbreak, he said.


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