China's first batch of 144 schools reopens in Qinghai Province

The authorities in northwest China's Qinghai Province have announced that 144 high schools and secondary vocational schools reopened on Monday in what's believed to be the first time that students have returned to campuses since the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during their winter vacation.

At the front gate of No.2 minority high school in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, students lined up at an appropriate distance from each other for temperature checks before entering classrooms. Their travel and residence history during the winter vacation had been registered days before.

"Our first class is about health protection and emergency drills," said a senior student.

According to Yang Yufa, deputy director of the Qinghai Education Department, high schools and secondary vocational schools across the province are scheduled to open on a phased basis between March 9 and 13, and middle schools between March 16 and 20.

Earlier this month, the provincial education department issued guidance for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in primary and secondary schools. It comprises a schools opening plan, a preparedness plan for epidemic prevention and control, and seven working systems for schools, including epidemic report, public health emergency incident report, teachers and students health examination in the morning and at noon, sick leave registration and tracing report, return-to-school verification, health education, and campus ventilation and disinfection.

"So far, textbooks and reference books of all disciplines have been sent to all secondary schools," said Yang, adding that a total of 1,054 professionals from medical institutions and centers for disease control have been dispatched to schools to give training on health protection and help disinfect campuses and take temperatures.

Besides, the Qinghai Industry and Information Technology Department has allocated 840,000 masks, 36 tons of medical alcohol, 75 tons of disinfectant and 855 non-contact body thermometers to schools. Schools themselves have put together supplies to meet their needs for more than one week.

Qinghai reduced its emergency public health alert from level III to level IV, the lowest level, on March 6. The province has seen no new confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases for 32 days – since February 6.

Read more:

Students to return in batches after schools reopen

COVID-19's impact on education: Chinese students take online classes amid school closures

Students get subsidies, discounts for online lessons amid COVID-19 outbreak