Coronavirus Ground Zero Wuhan re-opens schools

BEIJING (AFP) – Students in face masks returned to class yesterday in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged last year, as the city opened schools and kindergartens for the first time in seven months.

Nearly 1.4 million students resumed classes at some 2,800 kindergartens, primary and middle schools across the city, following the re-opening of high schools in May.

State media broadcast images of thousands of students hoisting the Chinese flag – a daily routine at all public schools – despite warnings to avoid mass gatherings.

Schools have drawn up plans to switch back to online teaching should new outbreaks emerge, city officials said last week.

Students were advised to wear masks to and from school and avoid public buses or trains if possible. Schools were also ordered to conduct drills and training sessions to help prepare for new outbreaks.

Students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School on the first day of the new semester. PHOTO: AFP

Official figures show Wuhan accounted for 80 per cent of China’s more than 4,600 coronavirus-related deaths and was under a strict lockdown for more than two months from late January.

The city also conducted a mass testing campaign targeting 11 million residents in May.

China has now largely controlled the spread of the virus, and schools across the country – which were closed in late January – have gradually re-opened. Shanghai re-opened schools in May, and the capital city Beijing, which recently suffered from a local outbreak of the virus, said it will resume all schools including kindergartens in September.

Beijing authorities require teachers and students to wear face masks on campus.

China has not reported any new local transmissions of the coronavirus in recent days.