Following the return of face-to-face elementary, middle, and high schools education last month, students and parents are now raising concerns on the rapid increase of COVID-19 infections.
Expanding the online classes was raised by some parents as a solution to the problem since only the high school seniors were protected by the vaccine. Education authorities, however, noted the necessity for in-person learning as several social issues have surfaced in a virtual set-up like learning gaps among students and for the young’s lack of social skills.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Education said that between September 2 and 8, the daily new infections among learners have hit an average of 177.4.
Some 1, 150 elementary students were quarantined as of Monday. Apart from them, 5, 204 middle and 7, 252 high school students are also placed in quarantine.
Anxious parents began voicing out their concerns, including Ryu Ju-hyun whose child attends as a fourth-grader in Guri, Gyeonggi Province.
“These young students, including my son, have not received COVID-19 vaccinations yet, so even just one infection can lead to an outbreak at any time,” she said. “As far as I understand it, the government decided to resume in-person classes in order to bridge the education gap, but it is questionable whether education comes before our children’s health and safety.”
Another parent, Kim Seung-hyun, is also concerned about her second grader child’s safety.
“I heard health and education authorities say children would be safer at school (than at other facilities), but that seems far from reality,” she exclaimed. “It is difficult for all children to follow quarantine rules appropriately no matter how much teachers try. I don’t think young children will be able to follow the rules, such as wearing face masks all the time,” Kim said.
But the education ministry is standing strong in their position for children to attend in-person learning, citing their need for development, both socially and academically.
Young individuals from 12 to 17 years of age are also planned to be included in the vaccination rollout for the fourth quarter, the health authorities said, as reported by The Korea Times.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) and other major countries are checking the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations for those in the age group of 12 to 17,” according to Vice Education Minister Jung Jong-chul.