South Korea will strengthen its vigilance against COVID-19 in schools and private education facilities across the nation for three weeks, effective immediately.
Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae unveiled the plan on Wednesday after more than two-thousand students and teaching staff were infected with the coronavirus in the one-and-a-half months since the new semester began in March.
As part of the stricter measures, the Education Ministry will offer optional preemptive testing on students, teachers and school officials of elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul on a trial basis starting in May.
The polymerase chain reaction(PCR) tests are separate from the tests required of those who display symptoms or have come in contact with infected people.
The ministry will consider whether to expand the scope of the testing program to other parts of the country after reviewing the results in Seoul first.
For three weeks from Wednesday, the ministry will also monitor whether schools and private education institutes are observing the five main COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing masks and social distancing.
Yoo, however, said the ministry isn't ready to roll out COVID-19 self-test kits, which the Seoul city government has been pushing for, saying that the kits have yet to be verified.