As the clock counts down towards the start of a new school semester, parents and guardians across the country face a uniquely unenviable choice: whether or not to send their children back to school as Japan grapples with COVID-19.

For those in big metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, the decision has been taken out of their hands. Most wards in Tokyo will postpone school opening until May, while some Osaka municipalities are slated to remain closed until April 19 or later.

In late February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked all schools across the country to close as the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spread from China. The vast majority of elementary, junior high and high schools complied. Some reopened Monday, holding commencement ceremonies.