Some schools reopen but parents remain edgy

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Some schools reopen but parents remain edgy

A day after a joint mission by the World Heath Organization (WHO) and Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced it had not found any evidence indicating ongoing transmissions in the community at large, many schools in Seoul responded on Monday by resuming classes.

The country’s education and health ministries promised countermeasures for schools, vowing to sanitize all areas and check students’ temperatures on a regular basis.

But parents still say they’re nervous.

“I wish the school would cancel more classes for students in the lower grades, who tend to have weaker immune systems,” said Lee Ja-hyun, a 41-year-old mother of a first-grader at an elementary school affiliated with Seoul National University’s College of Education.

“The school said it would check every student’s temperature, but I can’t help myself from feeling the jitters,” she said.

Around half of the students leaving the school after classes Monday afternoon when reporters from the JoongAng Ilbo arrived were wearing face masks.

Posters warning parents and local residents to stay away from the school grounds were posted.

A teacher from a school near Samsung Medical Center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, said a lot of students refused to come to school despite the reopening of classes.

Samsung Medical Center is ground zero for Korea’s MERS outbreak.

“Schools don’t dig into students’ personal information nowadays, so even teachers don’t know whether any of our pupils have parents working at that hospital,” the teacher said.

A 38-year-old housewife surnamed Lee, who lives in the same Gangnam area, said she is determined not to send her child to school for another week.

“I heard that kids whose parents are doctors [at Samsung Medical Center] and currently quarantined will come to school,” said Lee, who has signed up her child for temporary homeschooling.

BY CHAE SEUNG-KI, HAN YOUNG-IK [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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