National

More prefectures in Japan extend school closures amid virus uncertainty

JIJI

Prefectures are increasingly moving to extend school closure periods to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Of the 13 prefectures singled out by the national government under the coronavirus state of emergency, Ibaraki, Gifu and Aichi have decided to keep schools closed until the end of May.

Previously, the closures were slated to end on May 6, the last day of the state of emergency as it is currently declared.

“It’s appropriate to reopen schools after a certain period of time after examining the effects of the state of emergency,” Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura said.

The summer vacation period will be cut short substantially to secure enough class hours, he said.

Ibaraki Gov. Kazuhiko Oigawa said: “We found it difficult to end our school closures on May 6, given the current situation. We can’t help being cautious” about when to reopen schools.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government extended its school closure period by two days until May 8. It believes that it will take time to notify municipalities of its school closure policy if the national government decides to extend the state of emergency shortly before May 6.

Chiba, Osaka and Fukuoka also lengthened their school closure periods by two days. Hokkaido and Saitama are currently considering whether to extend their closures.

Gunma, Shiga, Hiroshima and Kumamoto, which are not among the 13 prefectures, plan to keep their schools closed until the end of May.

Gunma Gov. Ichita Yamamoto said it is necessary to examine the situation for at least around two weeks after the Golden Week holiday period that starts later this week and lasts through next week.

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