2020 School Opening in South Korea

The school year starts on the first Monday of March in South Korea. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak that peaked during that time the Ministry of Education (MOE) decided to postpone the opening of school. By April, the students started doing online classes. It wasn’t until May 4 that the announcement for in-person classes will start in phases. On May 7, health authorities informed the public that a 29-year old who was diagnosed with COVID-19 went club hopping when social distancing was still in effect. They feared he passed the virus to other club goers. This warranted another delay in in-person classes.

School Opening Schedule

The new schedule for school opening is as follows:

PhaseDate High SchoolMiddle SchoolElementaryKindergarten
1May 203rd yr
2May 272nd yr3rd yrGr 1 & 2All levels
3June 31st yr2nd yrGr 3 & 4
4June 81st yrGr 5 & 6
Schedule as released by MOE

The Seoul MOE has setup guidelines for school opening. The health of the students and school staff is of primary importance. They have revealed their plans to manage classes.

  • 3rd year high school students will attend school everyday. For the 2nd and 1st year levels, they are encouraged to operate biweekly based on grade or class. They will take advantage of blended learning – online and offline classes.
  • Middle school classes will be conducted online and at least once a week offline for performance evaluation. This will decided by the school.
  • Elementary students will be allowed to study remotely until the end of July.
  • Kindergarten schools will have both online and offline classes.

In the case of schools in Seoul, academic management will be decided by each school. Adapting online and offline classes, staggered class schedules, varied meal times have been decided to reduce the concentration of students while ensuring the normal operation of school curriculum.

Preparation for School Opening

The schools are required to comply with basic quarantine procedures:

  • disinfection of schools
  • installation of thermal imaging cameras
  • stockpiling masks
  • supplying body thermometers
  • installation of cover plates for school meals
Photo: SMOE (Seoul Ministry of Education). Classrooms are disinfected and seats are placed apart.

In Seoul, 1,547 units of thermal imaging cameras have been installed in 1,366 schools (one per school and additional units for schools with more than 1,200 students). Five masks per student and three for every faculty member have been purchased. Two more masks per student and one per faculty member will be secured.

Students are required to submit online check-ups of their everyday health status one week before they go to school.

In case of an infection

In the event of one confirmed case among students or faculty member, the school shall return to online classes. The school will immediately sterilize and ventilate the facilities, do contact tracing and recommend self-isolation for 14 days.

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