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No plans to delay new semester, Seoul city to support Chinese students

Feb. 21, 2020 - 16:52 By Ock Hyun-ju

The government said Friday it has no plans to order a postponement of the new school semester nationwide despite a surge in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

The Ministry of Education also set up a task force with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to help foreign students coming from China for the new school year, as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The education office in Daegu, which witnessed a sudden spike in confirmed cases this week, has delayed the reopening of 341 kindergartens and 456 elementary and secondary schools in the city.

Calls are growing for a delay in the reopening of schools amid health concerns, with some 8,300 people having signed petitions on the presidential office’s website as of Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Seoul city government and district offices in the capital will offer support in transporting and accommodating Chinese students enrolled in local schools who are set to return for the new school year.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide shuttle bus services from the airport to schools for returning Chinese students, and open city-run facilities to provide temporary housing, meals and daily necessities for the students.

Some five temporary city-run facilities can house up to 353 students, according to the Education Ministry.

Foreign students arriving from China, whose Hubei province is the epicenter of COVID-19, will be barred from going to school and placed in self-isolation for 14 days.

Some 68 Seoul-based universities, where about 38,330 Chinese students are enrolled, face a lack of space on campus to put all the Chinese students in isolation. Around 17,000 of them are expected to arrive here before the new school year begins in March.

The students will be required to report their health condition through a mobile application and their health status will be monitored twice a day while they are under 14 days of isolation.

South Korea saw 52 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing its total number of infections to 156, according to health authorities.

By Ock Hyun-ju (