Anchor: As fear over the spread of the new coronavirus among the general public heightens, the Education Ministry says it will advise Chinese students who have not yet returned to Korea for the spring semester, to take a leave of absence or distance learning courses.
Choi You Sun has the details.
Report: At a press briefing on Sunday, South Korea's Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said Seoul plans to recommend that Chinese students who have not yet returned to Korea for the spring semester consider taking a leave of absence.
The move comes as part of the government's efforts to contain the new coronavirus amid an expected influx of some 70-thousand Chinese students in the country for the first half of the school year.
[Sound bite: S. Korea's Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae (Korean)](Feb. 16)
"We plan to advise students who haven't yet confirmed the date of their return or their place of stay in South Korea, and have not received a visa yet, a leave of absence for the spring semester. Those students will be able to earn credits through distance learning courses and we will support universities to offer them a variety of courses to choose from."
Regarding students who plan to return, they will be checked for symptoms upon arrival, and those without symptoms will need to notify school authorities after their entry.
For the first 14 days, they will have to stay at their residence and refrain from going outside, including to attend classes, under monitoring by authorities and schools.
At a meeting with officials on Sunday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun expressed concerns over potential expressions of hatred toward the Chinese students amid fears that the virus could further spread among the general public.
[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)](Feb. 16)
"Students from China will be monitored through the same special immigration procedure as other Chinese nationals entering the country. For 14 days following their entry, they will be monitored under coordinated efforts among universities, local governments and health authorities. We will make sure universities prepare distance learning courses for students who decide not to return. Foreign students studying in the country are also our students and I ask local communities to exercise inclusivity to prevent hatred towards or conflict with the students."
While nine out of ten universities in the country have postponed the start of their spring semester by one to two weeks, the Education Ministry plans to check up on about 30 educational institutions, including 14 universities, on their quarantine and disinfection efforts.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.