• Kyodo

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The U.S. military base in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, has asked Japanese employees not to send their children to local schools in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the local board of education.

Elementary and junior high schools in Iwakuni reopened May 7 after they were shut down in response to the pandemic.

But 55 children were absent from two local elementary schools Friday due to the request by U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the city's board of education said.

Children of military personnel and U.S. employees working at the base who attend schools outside the facility are prohibited from going to the schools. Japanese employees were asked to take similar steps with their children.

Japanese employees at the base are not allowed to work there if their children attend local schools. They are only permitted to re-enter the base 14 days after their child has stopped attending.

Some parents not working at the base have also kept their children home from school due to concerns over the virus. On Thursday, 192 elementary and junior high school students were absent, including voluntary absences.

A spokesperson at the base said that it was of the utmost importance to limit the spread of the virus and protect the strength of the military. The base has confirmed with the board of education that there would not be any disadvantage for students because of their absences, the spokesperson added.

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