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New school year in China begins with strict COVID-19 measures

(Xinhua)    16:24, September 01, 2020

BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- With a mixture of nerves and excitement, many students in China kicked off a new school year on Tuesday.

For about 200 first-graders at Chengdu Garden (International) Primary School, southwest China's Sichuan Province, a brief ceremony was held Tuesday morning to mark a special moment -- their first day at school.

Each pupil has a ribbon tied on their left wrist symbolizing hope for the new beginning.

"It's like a little rabbit is in me today, and it is jumping up and down all the time," whispered a little girl. Sitting with hands folded on the desk, she sometimes gently bit her lower lip, waiting anxiously for her first class.

"Dad gave me the balance bike I've been dreaming of for entering school," she said. "I will definitely study hard."

"I'm already missing my baby, and I don't know if he can adapt well," said a parent surnamed Ma. Besides a full set of stationery, she also purchased masks, paper towels and hand sanitizer for her son. "I am worried about him and hope he will have a good day."

At 7:40 a.m., a kindergarten in Wuhan, a city once-hit hard by the novel coronavirus, welcomed its first batch of kindergartners. Hu Meng, a teacher, greeted every one of the 18 kids in her class. "Hello, Ms. Hu!" The lively kids cheered back.

"I'm so excited! I have missed them so much!" she said.

According to Hu, she and four other teachers began preparing for the new semester since May. After rounds of disinfection and epidemic prevention drills, the kindergarten finally opened on Tuesday, and comics and light-hearted slogans on epidemic prevention can be seen everywhere in public areas.

Official data show that a total of 2,842 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in Wuhan opened their doors Tuesday to welcome about 1.4 million students.

According to Wang Chifu, deputy director of the city's education bureau, primary and secondary school students in Wuhan should carry masks with them, but they do not have to wear them at school.

Wuhan currently has no confirmed COVID-19 cases. Nationwide, there were a total of 216 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland as of Monday.

Though the COVID-19 epidemic has waned in China, schools at all levels still took strict anti-epidemic measures to safeguard the health of students.

At about 7 a.m., senior students at Wuhan No. 49 Middle School stepped onto campus for a new semester. After having their temperatures taken, they were guided to their classrooms along a specially-designed route. Ten minutes later, students from another grade entered the school through another route.

"The safety and health of teachers and students are our top priority," said Yin Weiguo, a school official. "A thorough disinfection has been conducted in all classrooms, canteens, dormitories and toilets and will be carried out every day. Anti-epidemic supplies such as masks and hand sanitizers are also available in each classroom."

Similar measures are being implemented in schools across the country, with students in Shanghai, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Yunnan also ushering in their new semesters on Tuesday.

The Chengdu Education Bureau issued a notice, requiring schools to reopen in a staggered schedule amid intensive COVID-19 prevention and control measures. Students and staff should report their health conditions and are advised to avoid unnecessary traveling outside the province 14 days prior to the new semester.

In Shanghai, over 1.5 million primary and secondary school students began school on Tuesday while in Shenzhen, students in 2,628 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools also went back to school.

"The biggest change this semester is that we no longer have to wear masks in class," cheered Gan Siqi, a second-grader at a junior high school in Liuyang City, central China's Hunan Province. "Though we still have to take body temperatures regularly, we're not as nervous as last semester."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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