Elementary and Junior High Schools in 17 Municipalities within Fukui Prefecture
Elementary and junior high schools within Fukui Prefecture have been operating with a staggered student attendance schedule leading up to the June 1st reopening day, after being closed as a preventative measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Generally, students attend their elementary or junior high school to hand in or pick up assignments, or for consultation with their teachers, before returning home after several hours; however, schools in six municipalities (Katsuyama City, Eiheiji Town, Ikeda Town, Wakasa Town, Oi Town, and Takahama Town) have been carrying out classes on a shortened schedule. On May 25th, the schools in Ikeda Town commenced school lunch service for the students.
From May 7th, elementary and junior high schools, starting with Awara City, Ikeda Town, Wakasa Town, and then Takahama Town, one after the other, began having its students go to school on a staggered schedule, with schools in Fukui City and Tsuruga City being the last to do so from the 25th. Although many municipalities have students attend school once or twice a week, Awara and Obama cities increased its attendance frequency to three times a week from the 25th. Many elementary schools have their students go to school in groups, divided based on their area of residence, while junior high schools have their students divided by school year. The amount of time spend in school is between 1 and 3 hours. Within 11 municipalities, in addition to handing in and picking up assignments, the students’ health conditions are monitored, and are given guidance on infection prevention.
At the same time, there are municipalities with schools that have been carrying out classes on a reduced schedule. In Katsuyama City, schools have been making use of the learning support videos created by the Fukui Prefectural Board of Education, and distributed through DVDs (the schools’ lesson frequency are not affected by the lesson videos). In Ikeda Town, from May 25th, students are in school until 3:00 p.m., with 30 minute classes for elementary schools, and 45 minute classes for junior high schools.
Regarding school lunches, the service will resume within 11 municipalities form June 1st. As for Sakai City, which will resume school lunches from the 2nd, a request was made towards the school lunch centers for meals which will be easy to set on the table, and for ingredients to not have direct contact with bare hands.
Leading up to the school reopening, each municipal education board distributed antiseptic solution to its schools, and issued guidance for thorough infection prevention measures, such as frequent room ventilation. In Sabae City, distribution of face shields for every elementary and junior high school students, as well as for every teacher, has been completed. Echizen City has also distributed face shileds, for everyone within the elementary and junior high schools to each receive two. In Takahama Town, desks are being disinfected with hypochlorite water, and have been setting up humidifiers.
“It would be ideal if we could divide class sizes in half, to reduce the number of students during lessons; however, that would require double the teachers, which is unrealistic. We can only proceed with our current means, while being thorough with things like room ventilation during class,” said an Echizen City Board of Education associate, bracing for the school reopening.