Beijing shuts schools, students return to virtual classes as COVID-19 strikes again
Updated 14:06, 17-Jun-2020

In the wake of the recent emergence of COVID-19 cases in Beijing, all schools in the Chinese capital have been closed and students shall promptly return to attending online classes, the authorities announced at a press conference held Wednesday morning.

Municipal authorities made the decision after a cluster of cases linked to southern Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale market last week broke the capital city's 56-day streak of not having any cases. From June 11 to midnight on June 16, Beijing had recorded 137 new locally transmitted cases. The Chinese capital also raised its COVID-19 emergency response to level three from level two on Tuesday night.

The development comes at a time when the National College Entrance Examination, or Gaokao, is only three weeks away – slated for July 7 and 8, and the Senior High School Entrance Examination, or Zhongkao, slated for July 17 to 19, is only a month away. Authorities said the examinations' dates remain unchanged for now. 

Li Yi, spokesman for the municipal education commission, reminded the local schools to do preparations for both online and offline education for the autumn semester.

A total of 840,000 local students of grade four to 12 from 1,400 schools had returned to schools on June 9. Students in grades one, two and three were earlier scheduled to return to schools on June 15.

Meanwhile, local kindergartens of all kinds and after-school training institutions have also shut their doors. The universities, colleges and higher vocational schools will provide virtual services for soon-to-be graduates to undertake graduation formalities.

(Cover: A class in Beijing, May 22, 2020. /CFP)