Many schools across the nation reopened Monday after summer vacations were shortened to allow students to catch up on classes missed when schools closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The shortest break decided by municipal authorities was only nine days. Usually, students in Japan take vacation in summer for more than a month.

Students wearing face masks started arriving at Ushioda Elementary School in Yokohama, near Tokyo, around 8 a.m. Their summer vacation had been shortened to roughly half its usual length.

“I was unable to go enjoy myself at the swimming pool because of the coronavirus,” said Naoya Hirasawa, 12.

Schools are required to take steps to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion as well as to prevent coronavirus infections. Temperatures have risen rapidly in recent days, with the mercury hitting 35 degrees Celsius or more in many locations.

In the city of Nagoya, students at Shimizu Elementary School sat in chairs placed apart and attended school assembly in their classrooms to avoid crowding, with the principal, Tomio Suzuki, addressing them through the school’s public announcement system.

“Let’s do our best to be able to say that we all made it through 2020, despite the novel coronavirus and the heat,” he said.

In classrooms, windows were left open for ventilation while air conditioning was also running. A teacher told pupils that to prevent heat exhaustion, they can take off their masks as long as they maintain social distancing.

Sone Elementary School in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture, only had a nine-day vacation. “I didn’t get much summer vacation, but I am happy to see my friends,” said 11-year-old Suzaku Fujiwara.

Of the 1,794 local education boards across the country that closed elementary, middle and high schools due to the pandemic, 1,710 boards said as of June 23 that they were planning to shorten summer vacations, according to the education ministry.

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