Why can China close schools?

CIKD | Updated: 2020-04-11 09:00

It is important to note that the information provided in this Series is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

A teacher explains epidemic control knowledge on the first school day after a long winter holiday due to the coronavirus outbreak at Haidong Second Senior High School in Haidong city, Qinghai province, on March 9, 2020. [Photo/XINHUA]

In response to the need to fight the epidemic, China's Ministry of Education issued a notice on January 27, requiring all schools including universities, colleges as well as primary and secondary schools to postpone the opening of the spring semester of 2020. On February 27, the Central Leading Group on Responding to the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak held a meeting and stressed the continued postponement of school reopening. Starting from March 16, low-risk areas have gradually opened schools. Students in the final year of senior and junior high schools returned to school first. During the school closure period of more than two months, China adopted three ways to address the issues of childcare and student learning.

First, grandparents played a bigger role in helping take care of children and juveniles. According to statistics, grandparents are responsible for or participate in childcare in 80 percent of families with children and juveniles in China. While preschools and childcare facilities are closed, grandparents continue to provide support in childcare.

Second, for families without grandparents to rely on, such as some dual-breadwinner families, local governments issued regulations requiring employers to allow employees to take care of their children with pay. For example, Beijing issued Notice on Wages and Benefits for Employees with Childcare Needs during the Period of School Closure due to the COVID-19 Outbreak.It stipulates that each household may have one parent to care for their children at home. This situation is regarded as that the employee cannot work normally as a result of governments implementing quarantine measures or other emergency measures. In this case, the enterprises should pay their employee wages as usual. In a document titled Policies on strict epidemic control and prevention to help enterprises resume production, the Hangzhou Government stressed that enterprises are encouraged to allow one parent of dual breadwinner families to care for their children at home with pay. These families have children enrolled into kindergartens or primary schools but have no helpers for childcare during school closure resulted from epidemic outbreak.

Third, for college students and students in the stage of compulsory education, the education department has introduced various measures, encouraging local education sectors and after-school education institutions to provide learning resources and support services. The aim is to help solve students' practical problems to realize the goal of keeping learning amid class suspension (refer to Question 28 for details). The Ministry of Education has issued the Guidance on Organizing and Managing Online Teaching in Higher Education Institutions During the COVID-19 Outbreak, offering nine instructions for higher education institutions to continue teaching and learning while classes are suspended. Additionally, the Ministry of Education has launched the National Online Cloud Classroom, providing high-quality online courses to students.

Author: Hao Zhirong,Center for International Knowledge on Development

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