China Focus: Schools kickstart new semester with effective COVID control
BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- School bells rang again across China, as tens of millions of primary and middle school students started the fall semester on Thursday in compliance with COVID-19 control requirements.
At 8 a.m., Li Mingxin, headmaster of Beijing Primary School, stood at the school gate watching students wearing masks stream into the campus through temperature measuring equipment.
"Seven days ahead of the school day, all teachers and students reported their health conditions. Today, all people on the campus must show their negative nucleic acid test certificate taken within 48 hours," Li said.
Epidemic prevention and control is still a top priority, as community transmissions of COVID-19 are haunting a number of Chinese provinces and regions. The Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported 307 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 132 were in Sichuan Province, the National Health Commission said Thursday.
More than 1.6 million primary and middle school students as well as 600,000 kindergarten children in Beijing returned to classrooms for the new semester on Thursday.
Li Yi, a spokesperson from the Beijing municipal education commission, said schools have been required to screen the health conditions of all teachers, students, and employees seven days before the school opening.
In places that are seeing COVID-19 resurgences, the local education departments have addressed the staggered opening of the new semester while ramping up anti-virus measures.
The education authority in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, required schools to provide online teaching from Thursday. The opening of primary and middle school campuses will be determined by the city's epidemic control situation.
The education authority in China's southernmost province of Hainan said it would decide the time of staggered opening of the new semester for primary and middle schools and kindergartens after Sept. 5, depending on the epidemic situation in the province.
The new academic year is expected to inject fresh air into China's basic education as a national campaign has been launched to reduce excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for students receiving the free nine-year compulsory education.
During the summer vacation, teachers of the No.2 Middle School in Yucheng District of Ya'an City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, participated in a training program to get familiar with new teaching materials which have been recompiled to cope with new trends of the national college entrance examination, new curriculum, and school activities. Teachers are required to strictly control the total homework time of junior high school students in homework design.
"The homework in the new semester will be divided into three categories according to the degrees of difficulty. Except for class A, students will choose between class B and class C to do homework according to their individual characters," said Tuo Qingming, principal of the school.
On the first day of school, first-grade pupils in the Fuxue Hutong Primary School in Dongcheng District, Beijing, learned traditional rituals of how to dress neatly, stand straight and then bow to the Confucius (551-479 BC) statue and to their teachers.
In turn, the teachers gently dyed a little red dot between each child's eyebrows with a brush dipped in cinnabar, symbolizing opening wisdom and enlightening thoughts.
Chinese people have sustained the tradition of showing respect to teachers as advocated by Confucius, the most important educationalist and philosopher in Chinese civilization.