Novel coronavirus outbreak: Schools hold online classes for college entrance exam
Tao Yuan

When much of China is worried about the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus epidemic, Wang Yi had a different concern.

He teaches math at No. 49 Middle School in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu, one of the best in the city. His students are taking the college entrance exam this June.

"My biggest concern was, how will my kids go to school when the winter break is over," says Wang.

Seniors don't get much of a winter break anymore, just a few days off to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. China’s college entrance exam is known as a "make-or-break" moment for young students, not to be taken lightly.

Much of the country had started a self-quarantine. Entities were encouraged to postpone business operation.

"Every day matters," says 18-year-old Ye Zhongyi, a student in Wang's class. "If the opportunity comes and you miss it, then you've worked hard all these years for nothing.”

"We were quite anxious about her school," said Ye Kuijia, her father.

Wang Yi teaches online at home. / CGTN photo

Wang Yi teaches online at home. / CGTN photo

Throughout the Chinese New Year holidays, Wang Yi experimented with the possibility of holding live classes online. He researched various different software. Several tech companies had made their platforms free during the epidemic as Chinese people stayed at home to prevent a spread of the virus.

"We just don't know when this epidemic is going to come under control," says Wang. "We have no time to wait. Staying at home and being anxious is useless. We might as well calm down and do useful things.”

As the head teacher of the senior year, Wang summoned his staff for face-to-face meetings in order to solve the tech difficulties – online course was an unprecedented move for public school teachers like him. Everyone wore face mask at the meetings.

They needed a stable platform – each class is made up of more than 50 students and they all needed to tune in. Blackboard writing is another problem they need to solve.

"That's our biggest problem," says Wang. "We've come up with many solutions. I use a selfie stick to hold up a cellphone so the students can see me writing on paper."

Then, school resumed on time on February 2, on the bedside desks or dining tables in the homes of the teachers and students, through laptop screens, video chatting cameras, cellphones and iPads.

Ye Zhongyi studies online at home. / CGTN photo

Ye Zhongyi studies online at home. / CGTN photo

It's a temporary solution to get through a difficult period. But Wang Yi believes it helps teach his students an important lesson. "Textbook knowledge is secondary," he says. "But the spirit of finding a solution, of breaking new ground and trying new things is something that's going to benefit these young students for life.”

"It inspires me," says Zhongyi. "As though every difficulty can be overcome." She's studying in order to qualify for Zhejiang University, one of the top schools in China. She hasn't decided on a major yet. "I have too many dreams," she says.

Similar measures have been rolled out in high schools across China.