Schools in Minamisoma getting back to normal

Kyodo

Most elementary and junior high schools in Fukushima Prefecture started a new term Tuesday, with three elementary schools in Minamisoma returning to their own premises after sending students elsewhere due to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Minamisoma, which had been designated as an evacuation zone, has 12 elementary and junior high schools. Five of them returned to their original sites in October following the lifting of an evacuation advisory, and the three elementary schools started the new term in their old locations Tuesday after finishing work to decontaminate soil and repair buildings.

The four other schools will return to their former premises in February or March, city officials said.

At Ota Elementary School in Minamisona, the number of students dwindled to 50, less than half the number before the March 11 disasters, as many families fled the area for fear of radiation.

First-graders, who went to their school in Minamisoma for the first time, were shown around the school before the ceremony to begin the new term.

Itsuki Owada, a fifth-grader who returned from Yamagata Prefecture, said he was happy to see his friends. “The school in Yamagata was fun, but I’m glad I can see my friends here,” he said.

In a sixth-grade classroom, a student read out a New Year’s card from a classmate who moved to Gunma Prefecture. It said, “I’m looking forward to seeing you all some day.”