Beijing rolls out plans for school openings in upcoming fall semester
Hong Yaobin

From social distancing rules to teaching management, Beijing has rolled out a raft of plans to stagger school openings in the upcoming fall semester under stringent anti-coronavirus conditions.

Schools in the capital will open in a phased way with a slew of COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, said Beijing Municipal Education Committee at a press conference on Friday.

According to the education authorities, all teachers, students and staff from low-risk areas in Beijing have to show the health code when they are back at school for registration.

Meanwhile those from medium-risk areas must observe the 14-day quarantine rule and take nucleic acid tests within seven days before returning to campus.

Schools to open on different dates

Universities and colleges are allowed to open in advance for the registration of fresh students as early as Saturday, August 15, instead of the originally standard fall semester opening date of September 1.

Staff of a university are preparing for opening in Beijing, China, June 2, 2020. /CFP

Staff of a university are preparing for opening in Beijing, China, June 2, 2020. /CFP

College students will return in several batches to contain crowds. Also, the committee instructed universities to make detailed plans and update daily records of the number of returning students, as well as make full preparations in health monitoring and other respects.

Some major universities like Tsinghua University and University of Science and Technology Beijing have established online systems for students to upload their health information and get approval before their return to the campus.

Senior high schools will start their new semester on August 29, while students of primary schools and junior high schools will return in phased manner on August 29, September 1, and September 7.

Kindergartens are set to open in two phases on September 8 and September 11. In addition, extracurricular training institutions can submit applications for resuming offline classes from this weekend.

Kindergartens to adopt closed-off management

Strict measures will not allow unnecessary visits due to health and safety concerns. Apart from the students, teachers and staff, other people such as parents will not be allowed to enter the school unless otherwise specified.

A kindergarten in Beijing, China, June 8, 2020. /CFP

A kindergarten in Beijing, China, June 8, 2020. /CFP

Children of different classes will follow different time phases to enter and leave the schools to avoid gathering.

Additionally, face masks are mandatory for the staff and faculty, while the kids will not be required to wear masks given their behavior characteristics.

"We are adopting a method of absolutely closed-off management. All the members of the staff and faculty of the kindergartens are required to do nucleic acid tests within the past seven days when the kindergarten opens," said Li Yi, spokesperson for the education committee.

"In the meantime, kindergartens need to divide their campuses into different areas to minimize risks of cross infection," Li added.

Online and offline teaching combined

According to Li, primary and secondary schools will continue combining online and offline teaching in the new semester to improve students' learning experience and efficiency.

A primary school in Beijing, China, June 8, 2020. /CFP

A primary school in Beijing, China, June 8, 2020. /CFP

"Some content is fit for teaching to a large group of students online. Online teaching also has its advantages on personalized tutoring, online review and consultation," said Li. "In addition, online teaching could be combined with offline teaching as a supplement."

Primary and middle schools will be put under relatively closed management, adopting staggering attendance and at least one-meter social distancing, said the committee.

As students return to the school, they are required to take temperature checks and scan QR codes to register their personal information before entering any building on the campus.

Moreover, all staff, teachers and students must wear masks at school and only take them off outdoor where there are no crowds.