THE first batch of some 590,000 students has returned to primary and middle schools in Beijing, which started opening on Saturday, August 29, with a staggered timetable and COVID-19 confinement measures in place.
After having their temperatures checked, students entered the teaching buildings of Beijing Bayi Primary School, in which touch-free hand washing equipment is installed on each floor.
COVID-19-related health signs, such as lines on the floor spaced about one meter apart, can be easily found in the school to remind students to keep up social distancing.
Each freshman has also received a special gift bag, containing anti-coronavirus materials, such as a box of masks and sterilized tissues, in addition to the original welcome items like name tags.
Following the epidemic prevention guidelines, schools have also released distinct agendas on school opening day for students of different grades.
“Students enter the school with 10-minute intervals between grades to avoid crowds,” said He Shiming, president of the Fengtai Second Middle School in Beijing, adding that school opening ceremonies were held separately on the playground for different grades.
“The school has been well-prepared for the big day. The teachers have started to track and monitor the health status of students 15 days in advance, and the children were asked to report their temperatures every day,” said a parent of a pupil.
‘The last yet most important step’
With support from local governments, schools and educational institutions across China’s capital undertook a great deal of work in preparation for reopening, including preserving medical equipment like protective gear and sanitizers.
Beijing has dispatched more than 1,000 inspectors to instruct elementary and secondary schools to help COVID-19 precautionary work before the start of the fall semester.
Inspectors checked anti-epidemic and security preparations at all of the city’s primary and middle schools in advance, including facial recognition devices, social distancing lines, anti-coronavirus tips and disinfectants.
“There are 39 items in the guideline to be inspected in elementary and middle schools, while 50 ones in kindergartens. Our inspectors are required to carry them out one by one and record the details,” said Wang Fang, director of Beijing’s Haidian District Education Commission.
“The inspections can be regarded as the last yet most important step in preparation for reopening, ensuring that teachers and students can start the new semester safely and healthily,” Wang said.
From kindergartens to universities, schools in the capital have started a phased reopening with a slew of COVID-19 precautionary measures.
An estimated 400,000 primary and junior high school students will return to the classroom on Tuesday, September 1. Meanwhile, all elementary and secondary schools in Beijing will fully open on September 7, according to the local educational authorities.