With no end in sight to the COVID-19 outbreak, and having just declared a state of emergency, the Japanese government is now deliberating whether to extend its February guidance for the nationwide closure of schools beyond the usual start of the academic year early this month.

For the Japanese school system, however, the crisis offers an opportunity for more radical reform: Japan’s education ministry could shift the start of this year’s school calendar to September, thus giving the nation an extra summer to weather the new coronavirus.

Schools around the country have already begun to extend their closures.