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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request that all elementary, junior high and high schools close during the month of March to curb the spread of the new coronavirus caught many in Japan off guard. One demographic that might be feeling the confusion more than most are non-Japanese foreign-language teachers.

“We were staying with friends in Aichi. The husband in the family is a junior high school teacher, so we heard it from him before it broke on the news,” one person working for an ALT dispatch company tells The Japan Times. [The instructor asked to remain anonymous since they weren’t approved by their work to speak to the press.]

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