Published: 22nd November 2021
Cases on the rise amongst teenagers aren't stopping South Korea from reopening schools. Here's why
Parents and teachers have welcomed the return of in-person classes but also voiced concerns over lingering infection risks
All kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools reopened across South Korea on Monday despite the country registering cases in quadruple digits since July this year. Alarmingly, teenagers accounted for 15.4% of the total cases in the fourth week of last month from 11% in the first week, according to health authorities. Rates of inoculation have also remained low in this demographic in the country.
However, South Korea's current approach to the COVID-19 is centred around grabbing the bull by its horns and charging ahead with a 'living with COVID' philosophy. The country intends to restore normalcy as it was before the pandemic began.
The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), which is the country-wide university entrance test, was conducted last week, and it paved the way for a complete reopening of educational institutions from this week.
Parents and teachers have welcomed the return of in-person classes but also voiced concerns over lingering infection risks.
"With offline school activities becoming possible under the in-person class resumption, schools can now take a load off their mind," Kim Chang-soo, principal of Seoul's Hwibong High School, told Yonhap News Agency. He said his school will resort to a contingency action plan of temporarily turning to two-week e-learning if an infection is reported inside the school.
About 70% of the country is vaccinated against COVID-19 according to a report by NPR. South Korea was pursuing the 3T policy (Test, Trace, Treat) in order to control the number of current cases, and lockdowns and restrictions were being imposed as and when required. However, the government says that method is unsustainable and this has caused heavy social costs to small business owners, essential workers, students and caretakers.