ANKARA

Schools in South Korea reopened on Wednesday as the country continues easing its coronavirus restrictions, local media reported.

As per a phased reopening plan, classes have resumed at high schools across the country, while students of all other grades will return to school June 8, according to Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea’s academic year normally begins in March, but the government’s plan to reopen schools was postponed five times due to concerns raised by parents and officials, the report said.

High schools were scheduled to reopen on May 13 and all other schools on June 1, but the plan was changed after thousands of parents launched online petitions urging the government to reconsider the decision.

“We are facing a nervous situation where we should pursue both school life and quarantine at the same time,” Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, was quoted as saying during a visit to a school in the capital.

The Education Ministry has introduced quarantine and isolation protocols, and provided response manuals to help teachers and students adjust to the new academic environment.

Schools have installed temperature checkpoints, spaced out desks and fitted them with plastic dividers, and implemented social distancing measures in cafeterias, Yonhap reported.

More cases fan fears

South Korea reported 32 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number since a cluster of infections was found in Seoul on May 11.

The overall count since the country’s first case on Jan. 25 is now up to 11,110, including 263 deaths and 10,066 recoveries, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new cases increase fear of a fresh outbreak in the country, which started easing restrictions in the first week of May.

Seoul has been at the center of a new wave of cases after a 29-year-old man, who tested positive for the virus, visited five clubs and bars in the popular Itaewon district earlier this month.

So far, 196 cases, including 100 in Seoul, have been linked to nightclubs and bars.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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