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Younger pupils return to school in Shanghai

By XING YI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-06-03 09:21
Children play at the China Welfare Institute Nursery in Shanghai on Tuesday. All public kindergartens are now open. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

It took Lu Shuyang a little longer to enter her kindergarten than it used to, but she couldn't wait to get inside.

The 5-year-old was the first to arrive at the Meilong Kindergarten in Shanghai's Xuhui district on Tuesday morning, when all kindergartners and primary school students from Grades 1 to 3 were allowed to join their elder counterparts on campuses across the city.

After undergoing two temperature measurements, hand sanitization and a brief health check, Shuyang waved a happy goodbye to her father.

It would be the first time since January that she was going to meet her teachers and classmates face-to-face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I really miss my friends," said Shuyang, who was one of the 38 students returning to the kindergarten. They were mostly in a happy mood, which proved to be a relief to both the teachers and parents.

Yuan Ping, principal of the kindergarten, said the school has paid great attention not only to disease prevention, but also to minimizing the dissociative anxiety children may be experiencing because they had stayed at home for so long.

"It is natural for children to have dissociative anxiety when leaving their parents," Yuan said, adding that they have adopted many methods to lessen children's stress.

"Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, we'd send teachers to visit each home and advise parents to have their children bring a familiar object with them to kindergarten," she said.

Due to the outbreak, the kindergarten replaced physical visits with weekly online video calls in the past few months, during which teachers played games with children and told stories, Yuan said.

Shuyang's father, Lu Guohe, who came from Xiaogan, Hubei province, to work in a factory in Shanghai, said he appreciated the kindergarten's interactive communication with the children over the past few months.

Due to the outbreak, Lu said he and his family were not able to return to Shanghai until April.

"But the teachers have kept communicating with us since the Spring Festival holiday and managed to get us COVID-19 testing when we got back to Shanghai," Lu said.

Pan Qi, mother of a first-year preschooler, also commended the kindergarten's efforts to reach students through online means.

"The teachers have organized many online group activities for my daughter to keep in touch with her fellow classmates," Pan said. "It's really a relief to see how she looked forward to coming back to school this morning. She even got up earlier so she wouldn't be late."

Shanghai has been airing online courses for students since March 2.While most students had returned to campus by Tuesday, the municipality is also allowing parents of kindergartners and students from Grades 1 to 3 to decide whether to send their children back to school or continue with online courses at home.

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