Seoul , June 8 : With the final batch of students returning to classes on Monday, South Korea completed its phased school reopening scheme despite growing anxiety over a second wave of new coronavirus infections in capital Seoul and adjacent cities.
About 1.35 million more students -- in the first grade of middle school and the fifth and sixth grades of elementary school -- returned to their classrooms in the final round of the government's four-phased reopening plan, which started with high-school seniors on May 20, reports Yonhap News Agency.
This put all the 5.95 million students below the higher education level back at school, plus pre-schoolers, more than three months after the start of school was put on hold due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
But only one-third or two-thirds of them will actually be attending classes, with schools set to mix schedules for in-person classes and remote learning due to limited space for keeping a distance among students.
South Korea began reopening schools weeks after the country switched its social distancing campaign to what it calls an "everyday life quarantine" scheme aimed at helping the people slowly return to life under eased rules.
The complete resumption of classes came against the backdrop of persisting virus concerns in the greater Seoul area.
On Monday, South Korea reported 38 new virus cases, bringing its total caseload to 11,814, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
Of the total, 33 cases were local transmissions, all in the capital area where cluster infections traced to religious gatherings, nightclubs, a distribution centre and a door-to-door business entity have stoked alarm.
While schools shut down for nearly three months to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country's private educational institutes, such as cram schools, or "hagwon" in Korean, largely stayed open despite the government's repeated warnings against it.