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China Focus: Students taking "Gaokao" back to school as epidemic wanes
From:Xinhua  |  2020-04-12 23:29

HARBIN, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Like most students in China, Cao Rihan, a grade three high school student, had the longest ever two-month "winter vacation" this year.

Wearing a mask and dressed in her school uniform, Cao finally returned to school in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, on April 7, to prepare for the Gaokao, China's national college entrance exam, which has been postponed by one month to July due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.

Cao's school had more than 700 returning school seniors on the first day of reopening. But preparations for the new term began a month ago.

Classrooms were rearranged to reduce the risk of infection. The original class of about 50 students is now divided into two small classes in two adjacent classrooms, and the desks are 1.5 meters apart.

A poster introducing a "seven-step handwashing method" is pasted at the main gate and on the wall of the teaching building. Hand sanitizer and trash bins to recycle discarded masks are put at the door of each classroom. Every student must have their temperature tested and hands disinfected before entering the school.

The campus, which had been quiet for a long time, began to return to its former bustle.

According to Wang Ru, principal of Harbin No. 13 Middle School, the school has worked out a temporary curriculum design for the first two weeks to help students quickly adjust their modes from vacation to school.

"Smaller classes mean a double workload for the teachers, which can be stressful but is effective in helping students get into their best study state," said Han Ying, a teacher at the school.

The efforts made by the school is a microcosm of class resumption under the current situation in high schools across China. More than a dozen provinces, including Heilongjiang, Henan, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi and Hunan, have reopened school for senior students in high school, as the fate-deciding Gaokao is drawing near.

The first class is about epidemic prevention. Some biology teachers explained the types and characteristics of the virus on the first day, while over 200,000 students in eastern China's Fujian Province were given a video lecture by renowned respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan and front-line medic Chen Wei.

"All of you should remember that the epidemic situation is not over yet. You are facing the double tests of college entrance examination and epidemic prevention and control. Please continue to do a good job in epidemic prevention, especially take good care to protect yourself," said Zhong in the video.

"We were greatly encouraged by Academician Zhong," said Xu Yuanyuan, a student at Fuzhou No.1 Middle School.

The educational department in Harbin's Nangang District required a break of no less than 15 minutes between classes and physical exercise of no less than half an hour twice a day to ensure the physical health of both students and teachers.

In some schools, isolation rooms have been set up to cope with emergencies. Students take turns dining at the canteen, and the meals are ordered at the advice of nutritionists.

China's decision to postpone this year's college entrance examination to July 7 and 8 has won wide support from the public.

"I'm drafting a review plan with the help of the teacher; I'll sprint all-out preparing for the Gaokao," said Cao.