Schools in some major Chinese cities defer restart dates amid Covid-19 flareups

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – Chinese students are facing a third year marred by unpredictable schedules as schools across the nation postpone classes in an effort to get Covid-19 outbreaks under control.

Schools in major cities including the southern tech hub of Shenzhen and Chengdu in the south-west, and the northern port hub Tianjin, are deferring restart dates amid virus flareups.

Numerous other provinces – including Zhejiang, Henan, Liaoning, and Jilin – also are seeing delays, according to municipal government statements.

Nationwide, there were 1,293 local cases recorded for Tuesday (Aug 30).

The moves show how the country’s stringent Covid Zero approach impacts life well beyond the virus itself, more than two-and-a-half years after the pandemic started.

While the rest of the world is living with Covid-19, China has retained a zero-tolerance policy focused on dynamically eradicating the pathogen wherever it appears.

Shanghai is expected to resume school on time on Thursday, after almost six months of school closures amid the citywide months-long Covid lockdown, but it has been asking schools to take strict prevention measures to avoid potential virus spread.

Parents are required to upload each family member’s temperature, health codes with their travel tracks, and Covid-19 test results every day.

Students meanwhile will be guided to take daily Covid-19 tests the first thing when they arrived at school.

Some schools in the city have even stricter measures than the official guidance.

Teachers at several have been trained to conduct Covid-19 tests for students and will do so before starting class in the morning.

Facial recognition systems have been launched at the gates of other schools to scan every student and only those who are shown to have a negative Covid-19 result within 24 hours can enter.

Because it takes a lot longer for students to enter the grounds, the first class for some lower graders has been cancelled.

The measures also go beyond schools. The annual Chengdu Motorshow in Sichuan province, one of China’s biggest auto conventions, and the Pet Fair Asia in Shenzhen, have been cancelled.

Chengdu, which detected over 400 local infections in the latest flareup, said all schools in the city will delay reopening for students’ safety.

Tianjin, the port hub that’s 30 minutes away by bullet train from Beijing, said primary schools and high schools will shift to online classes starting Thursday, according to a statement from the city’s education department.