Parents mixed over Beijing school reopening

By Leng Shumei and Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/13 21:18:40

Students attend a class at a junior high school in Beijing, May 11, 2020. More than 80,000 students in their final year at junior high schools in Beijing returned to school on Monday. (Photo: China News Service/ Jiang Qiming)

 The Beijing education authority finally released a detailed timeline on Wednesday for local schools to reopen, with parents showing mixed feelings. They are happy to get rid of struggling between work and children, but also worry about cluster infection risks at school. 

Graduating students at Beijing colleges can choose to go back to school on June 6, Li Yi, an official from the Beijing education department, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Colleges can make specific reopening plans according to the situation on campus, Li noted.  

Students in second and third grades in middle school and senior high school, as well as senior elementary school students can return to school on June 1, Li said. 

Students in fourth and fifth grades can return to school on June 8, Li said. 

Li said that kindergartens can reopen on June 8 and parents can choose whether to send their children back to school. 

Many parents in Beijing took to social media platforms to say that they can finally get rid of struggling between work and taking care of children. But others also expressed worries over infection risks at school.

A mother surnamed Guo of a girl in second grade told the Global Times on Wednesday that she hopes her daughter can go back to school so that the teachers could help her take care of the child. However, Guo said she also worries about the risk of cluster infections.  

"I want to register my daughter at a nearby kindergarten for fall semester, and I will visit some kindergartens next month to check their precautions and other protective measures to ensure a healthy environment for my daughter," a mother surnamed Zhang of a 3-year-old girl told the Global Times. 

"I hope the government will come up with a detailed requirement for kindergartens on COVID-19 prevention and control," she said.

Experts tried to calm anxious parents, noting that Beijing as a whole is now at low community infection risk.

Zhou Zijun, a public health expert at Peking University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that according to a medical study on previous cases, many youngsters can heal on their own after being infected with the coronavirus, and the possibility of them developing critical conditions is low.

Students returning from overseas and high-risk domestic places should be the focus of the schools, Zhou noted. 

"The key is to discover infected people, treat them and their close contacts timely," Zhou said.

The capital lowered its emergency response level for the COVID-19 epidemic from top to medium on April 30. All 16 districts in the capital were considered low risk on the same day.

Graduating Beijing students in senior high and middle schools have resumed classes on April 27 and May 11, respectively. 

According to Li, about 84,000 graduating students in middle schools in Beijing returned to class on May 11, and 125 showed fever that day. The 125 students have all accepted COVID-19 nucleic acid tests and received negative results. 

Schools across China are gradually resuming classes, including those in Central China's Hubei Province, which was hit hardest by the virus. They have launched strict measures to prevent clustering infections among students. 

For example, authorities at the Huangzhou district of Huanggang, Hubei, require graduating students and faculty staff at local middle schools to take anti-body tests every 14 days after school reopens on May 25, local media reported on Wednesday. 

Family members of commuting students are also required to take nucleic acid tests before May 25, the report said.

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