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South Korean schools to reopen with online classes

Seoul, March 31 (IANS) South Korean authorities announced on Tuesday that the new school year will begin from April 9 after a five-week delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that classes will be conducted over the Internet to prevent a recurrence of the outbreak.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, who is heading the unit responsible for coordinating the government's response to the outbreak, announced the measure and said that not all schools will be able to start classes at the same time as the installation and implementation of the systems of distance classes will be done progressively, reports Efe news.

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Although South Korea has one of the best telecommunications networks in the world, there are doubts as to how the country's infrastructure will support such a nationwide deployment.

South Korean universities, which began their new semester with online classes on March 16, have been experiencing various technical problems in keeping so many people connected simultaneously to classes.

There is also concern about the possibility of ensuring the technological resources needed to help all lower income families in the country be able to attend the online classes.

Although the school year was scheduled to begin on March 2, South Korean authorities pushed it back three times due to the spread of the coronavirus that peaked in the country at the end of February.

South Korea, which has not limited the movement of its citizens and kept its borders open, has since managed to stabilize and restrict the number of new COVID-19 infections through widespread testing and contact tracing.

The country reported 125 new cases on Monday and has been detecting fewer than 200 infections a day for more than 20 days.

Most of the cases (62) were detected in Daegu, the epicentre of the national epidemic.

The region around Seoul, where half the country's population lives, had 43 cases, many linked to people returning to the country from overseas and to new outbreaks in churches.

Another 15 infections were detected in the country's airports.

The total number of infections in South Korea stands at 9,786 – of which 4,216 are active cases – with 162 deaths (the death rate for coronavirus in the country is 1.65 percent), while 5,408 people have recovered from the infectious disease, 55.2 per cent of all those who were infected.

–IANS

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