Students return to class in Shanghai and Beijing

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Tens of thousands of students returned to school in Shanghai and Beijing Monday after months of closures intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as China’s major cities gradually return to normality.

Shanghai students in their final year of middle and high school returned to classrooms, while only high-school seniors in Beijing were allowed back on campus to prepare for the all-important “gaokao” university entrance exam.

China has largely curbed the spread of the deadly disease, but is still on high alert with growing fears of imported cases and a second wave of domestic infections in the northeast.

Teenager Meng Xianghao said he was taking extra precautions on his first day back at Beijing’s Chenjinglun High School.

“I brought masks, garbage bags and disinfectant,” Meng, who had just taken the subway for the first time in months, told AFP as children in masks and uniform tracksuits filed past police and officials to enter the school.

“I’m glad, it’s been too long since I’ve seen my classmates,” said 18-year-old student Hang Huan. “I’ve missed them a lot.”

A tent set up at the entrance was staffed by a person in a white hazmat suit, while a man wearing a container of disinfectant on his back sprayed the ground by the school gates.

Across the country, schools that have been closed or online-only since January began gradually reopening last month, while virus epicentre Wuhan is set to reopen its high schools on May 6.

Students in the capital will have their temperatures measured at school gates and must show a “green” health code on a special app that calculates a person’s infection risk, according to China’s Ministry of Education.

The ministry said some schools in Beijing had rehearsed the reopening with mock “students” in advance. (AFP)

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