China has postponed start of new school semester and encouraged students to study at home over safety concerns as the country fights a novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 40,000 people.
A series of measures will be taken to prevent the spread of the virus in colleges and universities, education officials said on February 12.
Wang Dengfeng, a senior official with the Ministry of Education (MOE), told a press conference that the ministry had required postponement of school semesters across the country.
Colleges and universities will reopen on a staggered schedule to avoid travel peaks of students, he said, adding that all schools must carry out disinfections after reopening.
Students coming from areas hit hard by the epidemic, and those with close contacts of confirmed cases or those having symptoms such as fever or cough, might need to be put under quarantine. Other students will need to have their health conditions checked on a daily basis, according to Wang.
Students from Hubei Province, where the epicenter city of Wuhan is located, will not be able to leave for schools outside the province until they meet local requirement, he said.
Never cease to learn
Although schools have been put on hold, Chinese students will be able to attend classes online or study via television during the period.
The MOE has issued a guideline for universities to organize online classes, with 22 online platforms offering 24,000 courses to students, said Wu Yan with the ministry at the press conference.
These courses are of high quality and were carefully selected over the past several years, Wu said, adding that more platforms will be launched in the future.
A "cloud platform" will also be launched on February 17 to provide students in elementary and secondary schools with education resources covering all major school subjects, said Lyu Yugang with the MOE.
Aside from school knowledge, students should also learn about epidemic prevention and control during the period and receive education on patriotism, life and psychological health, according to a separate guideline issued by the MOE and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on February 12.
For students in remote or rural areas with low Internet accessibility, a Chinese education television channel will start airing classes on February 17 for them to study at home, according to Lyu.
Support in job-hunting
Officials said at the press conference that more help in job-hunting will be offered to a total of 8.74 million students expected to graduate from college this year.
Offline recruiting activities have been suspended across the country to avoid mass gatherings, and online recruiting services, such as online interviewing and contract signing, will also be improved, said Wang Hui with the MOE.
The authorities would conduct strict reviews on the employers and recruitment information online, Wang added.
The ministry would pay extra attention to the students with special needs, including those from poor families or students with physical difficulties, said Wang.
"We will also open some online courses or hotlines to guide the students on finding jobs and provide psychological counseling," said Wang.