School reopening and resumption of face-to-face classes is an important issue for hundreds of millions of families and a serious challenge requiring coordination between COVID-19 prevention and educational reform. Now that significant outcomes have been achieved in the fight against the pandemic and businesses restarted on a larger scale in China, school resumption has also been pushed forward in phases and under guidance. By June 9, more than 197 million students had returned to school across the country, representing over 71% of total registered students. However, worries and concerns about whether school resumption will trigger another wave of outbreak still remain, calling for timely and research-based responses from the authorities.
On May 13, the MOE and National Health Commission (NHC) jointly held a video conference to offer guidance on the safe reopening of educational institutions of all levels. As part of a follow-up effort, seven investigation teams were dispatched by the two organizations to Shanghai, Jiangsu, Henan, Hunan, Guangxi, Sichuan and Shaanxi, to inspect practices adopted by different schools and collect expert feedback. Based on the results of the investigations, the MOE drafted 20 Q&As on School Reopening with the Support of Long-term COVID-19 Prevention Mechanism, which was then jointly issued by the MOE and NHC after deliberations.
The Q&As addressed a range of issues, including general requirements for school reopening and outbreak prevention, management of key spaces and students in schools, management of school clinics, training on epidemic prevention, materials and logistics support needed for prevention, psychological counseling for students, nucleic acid testing, and prevention and treatment of illnesses caused by summer viruses. The document is now available on the MOE and NHC websites.