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2022-06-06 09:34:25

SHANGHAI — While high school seniors in most parts of China are doing last-minute preparations for the college entrance exam, or gaokao, their peers in Shanghai returned to school for in-person classes after a two-month lockdown on Monday.

Just before 8 a.m., students in the city’s Hongkou District flashed their green health code and passed through a temperature-checking scanner outside their school. They arrived early on foot or bikes and some with parents, as city guidelines ask students not to take public transport.

As the city gradually reopened from June 1, despite reporting sporadic COVID-19 infections, students in 11th and 12th grades started in-person classes Monday, with those in the final year of middle school set to return from June 13. All others would continue to study online for the rest of the semester.

Shanghai also postponed the gaokao, scheduled in the next few days nationwide, by a month as it struggled to curb the country’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since 2020. The exams for students in Shanghai will kick off on July 7.

High school students line up to show their green health code and pass through temperature check at a school in Hongkou District, Shanghai, June 6, 2022. Luo Meihan/Sixth Tone

High school students line up to show their green health code and pass through temperature check at a school in Hongkou District, Shanghai, June 6, 2022. Luo Meihan/Sixth Tone

A mother surnamed Yu, who dropped her daughter off at a high school in Hongkou on an electric bike, told Sixth Tone that she was relieved to see students back at school.

“Her studies were already disrupted by the lockdown,” Yu said. “I just hope she can adjust herself well in the last month at school and there won’t be any major outbreaks before the gaokao.”

Many students are already expecting a stricter academic routine after returning to school.

An 18-year-old student surnamed Lu in Pudong New Area told Sixth Tone that she would now take classes seven days a week. She would then end her daily activities after taking a nucleic acid test at school.

Wu Xueyi, another senior student at a boarding school in Pudong New Area, said she would stay at school until the gaokao is over. Though the school requires all students to take an antigen self-test and nucleic acid test every day, she said it was more encouraging to study with peers than alone at home.

“Before the pandemic, I never studied at home,” said the 17-year-old. “Home used to be a place for having fun and relaxing.”

Wu said it took her about a week to adjust to studying at home during the lockdown and experienced mental health issues. She said she cried every day for a week in mid-April and was anxious about whether she was lagging behind her peers. The stress resulted in a fever for two days.

The online lessons and after-hour studies that stretched for over 12 hours a day on a digital device also strained her eyesight and caused some issues with her vision, especially when in environments with bright light.

“I don’t want to have online classes anymore — once was enough,” Wu said. “I hope I won’t have to take them in university.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Students return for in-person classes at Shanghai No.3 Girls’ High School in Shanghai, June. 6, 2022. Yin Liqin/CNS/VCG)