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Schools in S. Korea open to hold in-person classes for younger elementary school grades Updated: 2021-03-03 03:56:40 KST

Tuesday was a big day for some, with a mixture of excitement and nerves.
First grade elementary school students were able to say hello to their new friends and teachers.
Last year schools nationwide were left in limbo due to the pandemic.
However, in January, the nation's education ministry said it was time to bring students back into the classrooms.

"How are you feeling about being able to study with your friends in the classroom?"

"I'm extremely excited "

"Because we sent our kids to kindergarten during the pandemic, COVID-19 didn't stop me sending them to school this year. I just hope he does well and makes some new friends."

But some parents are still worried.

"Going to school daily didn't sound too appealing. But, we don't know when the pandemic will end. I just want my child to do well at school and follow prevention guidelines."

These student are seeing their new friends and teachers for the first time today, but they are also experiencing a sharply different school life compared to the fun they would've had pre-pandemic.

Upon arrival, body temperatures are checked multiple times.
Wearing a mask is a must for everyone even during break time.
Water bottles are brought from home instead of using the water fountain.
First graders are not allowed to play with toys.
And to maintain social distancing, the classrooms are laid out differently with partitions at each desk.
It's similar at lunch time too.
As of Tuesday, students in kindergarten, high school seniors, and special educational needs students are back to in-person learning.
The remaining age groups will have a mix of online and offline lessons the schedules will be up to each school to decide.
However, if the social distancing level goes up to 2.5, only a third of the school's capacity will be used.
If it goes up to the highest level, every class will revert to remote learning.
The education ministry also said it will assign nearly 2-thousand contract teachers to help out younger students with basic educational support during in-person classes for the next coming weeks.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News.
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