Children in Asia are going back to school. But education looks different in the time of coronavirus

Senior students eat lunch at tables equipped with plastic barriers to prevent possible spread of the novel coronavirus in the cafeteria at Jeonmin High School in Daejeon, South Korea on May 20.
Senior students eat lunch at tables equipped with plastic barriers to prevent possible spread of the novel coronavirus in the cafeteria at Jeonmin High School in Daejeon, South Korea on May 20. Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap/AP
For the first time in three months, South Korean high school students are back in the classroom.
But in many ways, it's not schooling as usual.
As high school seniors returned to school Wednesday, they had their temperatures checked, wore masks on campus, and sat at desks that were spaced apart, in line with commonplace social distancing practices.
However, within hours of reopening, dozens of schools in Incheon, a city near the capital Seoul, were forced to shut again after two students tested positive for coronavirus.
South Korea -- which has reported more than 11,100 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths -- appears to have its outbreak largely under control. Now, the country is trying to get back to something approaching normal life.
But South Korea's experience shows that reopening schools doesn't mean a return to normal -- and carries continued risks.
School is also starting in other countries in Asia Pacific. In New Zealand, which has been praised for its swift approach to controlling the virus, students around the country headed back to school on Monday after eight weeks at home.
In parts of Australia, children are already back at school.
In China -- where the first coronavirus cases were reported last year -- students began going back to school in March, according to state news agency Xinhua. Earlier this month, the Education Ministry said that about 40% of students were back in the classroom.



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