For most kids in Japan, school is back in session after the summer break. Those following the Japanese school calendar have just started their second term, while most international school students will have moved up a grade. Parents usually welcome this season with a collective sigh of relief, but this year the ongoing pandemic has added a whole new layer of stress about returning to the classroom.

Emma Sasaki has two children, aged 8 and 13, attending Japanese school. “Luckily, my city started offering vaccines for kids aged 12 and up, so my older one has had her first shot, but many of her classmates haven’t. She sees the news about the growing numbers of young people catching COVID-19 here and worries about her friends and those at her school getting it, and then having to shut down the whole school,” she says.

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