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Back to school in China as restrictions ease worldwide
Children in China’s two most important cities went back to school on Monday after more than three months at home, as coronavirus restrictions eased and governments around the world began charting a path out of the pandemic lockdown.
Europe’s four worst-affected countries all reported marked drops in their daily death tolls, offering hope that the outbreak may have peaked in some places —at least for now. But leaders and experts remain divided on how quickly to revive shuttered economies while maintaining a delicate balance between freedom and safety.
Italy and New York laid out partial reopening plans, with France and Spain to follow suit this week, while tens of thousands of final-year students returned to school in Shanghai and Beijing after months of closures. “I’m glad, it’s been too long since I’ve seen my classmates,” 18-year-old Hang Huan said in Shanghai. “I’ve missed them a lot.”
Shanghai students in their final year of middle and high school were allowed back into their classrooms on Monday, while in Beijing only high school seniors were back on campus, furiously studying for the make-or break university entrance exam.
Students must have their temperatures checked at school gates and show “green” health codes on an app that calculates a person’s infection risk, according to China’s Ministry of Education.
Elsewhere, people will have to wear masks in public and rigorously observe social distancing measures when the country’s current restrictions are eased on May 4. “If you love Italy, keep your distance from others,” he said.
The pandemic has forced more than half of humanity into lockdowns to stop the virus from spreading — upending lives and tipping the global economy toward a recession not seen in decades.
In Spain, which has had some of the strictest measures in Europe, children ventured outside for the first time since mid-March on Sunday, some wearing small masks and gloves.
Six-year-old Ricardo said it felt “very good” to be able to run around with his younger sister.
While cases and deaths plateau, the world remains in wait-and-see mode as scientists race to develop treatments and, eventually, a vaccine for the virus. Some governments are studying measures such as “immunity passports” as one way to get people back to work — but the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that people who survive COVID-19 cannot be certain they will not be hit again.