Careful precautions are still required to guard against infection from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
In order to continue to ensure the rights of those being educated, such as children, even in this situation, it is necessary to continue running schools while minimizing as much as possible the risks of infection and the spread of infection in schools.
This page presents initiatives for safety measures taken in schools in Japan under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), using the following two materials released by MEXT.
- Public Health Management Manual for COVID-19 in Schools: The new normal in schools (2021.4.28 Ver.6)
- Education in Japan beyond the crisis of COVID-19 – Leave no one behind (September. 2020)
The information in these materials is as of June 24, 2021. Please check with the MEXT website for the latest information.
1. Ideas concerning COVID-19 measures in schools
At schools, along with bringing in the “new normal” of continuing infection measures such as avoiding the “3Cs (Closed spaces, Crowded spaces, Close-contact settings), wearing masks where you cannot maintain safe distances from others, and hygiene measures such as washing hands, initiatives are designed to allow as far as possible school activities such as classes, clubs, and events to continue, ensuring healthy education for children, by adapting and changing lesson and activity contents in light of the local infections situation.
In addition, the following guidance is also given to both pupils and their parents or guardians.
Ⅰ. Guidance for pupils
Actions by pupils in areas unsupervised by school staff, such as during breaks or when going to or from home, carry high infection risks. Therefore, the first step must be to provide guidance about infection-prevention measures in order to get the pupils to correctly understand COVID-19, make their own judgments about the risk of infection, and act to avoid it.
Ⅱ. Implementation of basic infection measures
- Eliminating infection sources
In order to eliminate sources of infection within schools, it is important to not carry the virus in from outside. In particular, in regions where there are infected persons with no clear route of infection, the health of pupils, staff, and their families should be thoroughly monitored.
- Eliminating infection routes
COVID-19 generally infects through airborne particles or touch. It is believed that there is a risk of increasing infections in closed environments where a large number of people are talking at close range, even without coughs, sneezes or other symptoms. To eliminate infection routes, it is important to (1) wash hands, (2) practice cough etiquette, and (3) clean and disinfect.
- Increasing physical resistance
Guidance is provided to increase the body’s overall ability to fight off illness, including ample sleep, appropriate exercise, and a well-balanced diet.
2. Ensuring learning for children
In regards to ensuring children’s learning, MEXT has announced it will carry out initiatives based around the following two core ideas.
Ⅰ. Clarify policies for organizing and implementing curricula to ensure effective learning
- Recover learning at school by setting special attendance days and/or staggered attendance schedules, redesigning timetables, reviewing the length of long vacations, having school on Saturdays, as well as prioritizing school events and shortening their preparation time, etc.
- Special measures can be taken when it is still difficult to complete the curricula as scheduled, even if the measures above are taken:
- Moving some learning content from this year to 1 or 2 years into the future
- Prioritizing learning activities during school lessons
- Every management body should support educational activities at every school. Prefectural boards of educations should support municipal and town boards within their region.
- High school and university entrance exams: Measures to ensure that examinees are not disadvantaged for high school and university entrance exams.
Ⅱ. Provide the personnel and material support necessary for ensuring children’s learning nationwide
- MEXT is taking the initiative for the large-scale assignment of additional teachers and instructors and for providing funds to all elementary, junior high, and high schools to support the reopening of schools. In this way, ensuring both learning and taking quick, flexible countermeasures against COVID-19.
- Under the GIGA School Program, MEXT is also accelerating the preparation of hardware, software, and personnel in an integrated way to realize “one computer per student” at the earliest possible time, as well as to establish communication environments that connect to students’ homes. Through these measures, MEXT will ensure that all children can learn via ICT even in emergency situations such as temporary school closures due to natural disasters or infectious diseases.
This is based on the following:
MEXT, “Public Health Management Manual for COVID-19 in Schools: The new normal in schools” (2021.4.28 Ver.6)
MEXT, “Education in Japan beyond the crisis of COVID-19” (September. 2020)