Taiwan's students return to school after extended winter break

Each student’s temperature is taken, many have packed masks and sanitizer

Students return to school after extended winter break. 

Students return to school after extended winter break.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Thousands of schools across Taiwan welcomed back their students on Tuesday (Feb. 25) after the opening day of spring semester was postponed due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Earlier this month, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that all primary and secondary schools in Taiwan would extend their winter break by two weeks from the originally scheduled ending date of Feb. 15. This year's winter vacation marked the longest in the history of Taiwanese education with a total of 32 days.

On Tuesday, parent volunteers and teachers gathered in front of schools to take the temperatures of the children. Many of the students have prepared their own masks and hand sanitizer to keep from contracting the virus.

Lin Hui Chen (林惠珍), principal of Guang Hwa Elementary School in New Taipei, said that the teachers at her school had already sanitized the campus on Monday (Feb. 24) and that none of 3,500 students have shown signs of fever or discomfort. She added that many parents accompanied their children into classrooms since it was the first day of class but that the school is planning to minimize the number of visitors permitted in the upcoming months, reported Liberty Times.

Kaohsiung Chung Shan Industrial and Commercial School, one of the largest vocational high schools in Taiwan, has also ratcheted up precautions. According to ETtoday, the school has combined forehead thermometers with infrared cameras to detect students that have fevers while asking the entire student body to wear masks at all times.

During a press interview, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that back-to-school day serves as a stress test for the Taiwanese government and that schools must eventually resume normal operations. He noted that approximately 220,000 students were set to return to school Tuesday and emphasized that teachers have to make sure their students wash their hands, reported CNA.

Students sanitize environment. (CNA photo)

Infrared cameras used to detect fever. (CNA photo)

Elementary students learn about virus prevention. (CNA photo)