Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe said that all junior high, elementary and high schools in Japan will remain close form Monday until the spring break through April over the spread of novel coronavirus.
In a meeting, Abe said that health and safety of children is their top priority and for that preventive measure, which also includes schools across Japan, is intended to cope with the risk of spread of infection among students and teachers spending a long time together.
Abe ordered schools to adopt the best possible preventive measures to stop the spread of coronavirus infections, such as minimizing the number of students in case of entrance exams and graduation ceremonies in the coming weeks.
In Japan, the academic year ends in March and the new academic year typically begins in early April.
Abe announced this measure as the opposition parties have started criticism of his administration for not responding quickly. There are a growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan and the end of this China-originated outbreak not yet in sight.
The number of confirmed cases in Japan has reached 900 which include over 700 from the Diamond Princess, an infected cruise ship which is docked in Yokohama.
Given that school students are expected to stay at home, Abe requested the government agencies and companies to allow their workers to take leave and spend more time in homes with their families.
He also instructed the government for preparing necessary legislation to stop the further spread of infections and reduce the impact on daily life and economy.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, nursery schools will be excluded from this nationwide closure request.
Meanwhile, teachers expressed concern about the closure request as they need to adjust classes and events schedules. A public elementary school teacher said that a one-month closure of schools is unheard of and this will have a BF significant impact.
This announcement came as the majority of schools have already decided to remain close or scale down their ongoing activities.
The government of Osaka city said that it will temporarily close all kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools till March 13 amid the concern over COVID-19 outbreak. It will decrease the scale of coming graduation ceremonies by minimizing the number of participants and reducing the program hour as well.
Mayor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui at a meeting with senior city officials said that they will conduct simultaneous shutdowns to ensure prevention and safety.
During the closure, school authorities will gather information about the health condition of their student from parents and in case of any concern, they will report to the education board.
Ochanomizu University said that state-run institution will shut down affiliated elementary, kindergarten, junior and senior high school for about a month until the end of spring break, early April.
Majority of the 1,600 elementary and junior high schools on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido were already closed for a week.
The action came after the Hokkaido board of education requested local authorities to temporarily close all the public and private schools in an effort to control the COVID-19 epidemic.