About 57,000 teenage students from 121 institutions in Hubei Province returned to school Wednesday, but not all was as it once was, as students were instructed to adhere to new COVID-19-prevention measures, wearing masks and walking single-file past thermal scanners placed throughout hallways.
After the school closures back in January, students seemed eager to get back to class following months of distance learning.
“School is finally reopening!” one student posted on Weibo, a Chinese messaging platform similar to Twitter, reported the New York Post. The teens also had new seating arrangements, with their desks now spaced about 3 feet apart.
The return to class was only for Hubei’s oldest students, as high school seniors are preparing to take the make-or-break university entrance exams. Return dates for junior and middle school students have not yet been confirmed. Some institutions arranged staggered arrival times for teachers and students, according to state-run outlet China Daily, reported AFP.
Officials in Wuhan are requiring all students and staff to be tested for COVID-19 before going back to school, and all campuses must have been cleaned and disinfected. These new back-to-school measures are the latest step in a gradual normalizing of life in Wuhan and the rest of Hubei.
Schools in other parts of China that have also been using distance learning since closing back in January began gradually reopening last month, with Beijing and Shanghai letting some students return last week, AFP reported.
The current amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide stands at 3,742,665, and 262,709 people have died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. China has recorded over 80,000 COVID-19 cases, and more than 4,600 people have died in the country after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.