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Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo prefectures set to keep schools open during state of emergency

The Osaka Prefectural Government's annex building including the prefectural education board is seen in Osaka's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

OSAKA -- Education boards in Osaka and its neighboring western Japan prefectures of Kyoto and Hyogo will continue to hold regular classes at schools instead of closing them or staggering school hours, even after a state of emergency was declared.

    The Osaka Prefectural Government decided in a coronavirus countermeasures task force meeting on Jan. 12 that prefectural schools, including high schools, will carry on with regular classes as a general rule, while taking thorough preventative measures, such as washing hands and disinfection. The decision was made based on the small number of cluster infections at prefectural schools, and statistics that show that there are barely any cases nationwide where teens develop severe COVID-19 symptoms.

    Prefectural officials however, will implement countermeasures such as canceling or postponing school trips to locations outside the prefecture, as well as banning practice games with other schools as part of extracurricular activities.

    After a state of emergency was declared in the Japanese capital on Jan. 8, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been encouraging public schools to hold classes with staggered schedules, while incorporating online learning. A senior official of the Osaka Prefectural Education Board explained, "There were voices from educators in the field that strongly demanded that classes be continued regularly. The schools have finally been gradually making up for the delay in academics after simultaneous school closures in spring, and we called off staggering or shortening school hours."

    Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that online classes will be held to support students in Osaka who refrain from going to school for fear of getting infected. The Osaka Prefectural Board of Education will request for similar cooperation from elementary and junior high schools in the prefecture via municipal education boards.

    High school entrance exams are also set to be held from February, in accordance with the original schedule, while taking preventative measures against infection.

    (Japanese original by Yuki Noguchi, Osaka Science and Environment News Department)

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