*With downgraded epidemic control measures, school campuses in China no longer require negative nucleic acid test results to enter the campus.
*Different regions of the country began the spring semester at different times.
*Students are required to report their body temperature before returning to school, according to the requirements of the education authorities.
BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- About 300 million teachers and students are returning to school campuses across China, as the spring semester kicks off in a staggered manner in each provincial-level region.
The new school term is the first semester after China downgraded its management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B on Jan. 8. Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan on Feb. 6 urged efforts to optimize school management in accordance with the country's adjusted COVID-19 response and fully restore normality in school life.
On Monday, over 1 million primary and middle school students in Beijing returned to school.
A pupil walks into the school at a primary school in Yizhuang of Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Peng Ziyang)
In Beijing No. 13 Middle School, Qin Sheng, vice president of the school, announced that the stage of the school opening will be used to hold a coming-of-age ceremony for the seniors in high school.
"The ceremony was originally planned for the last fall semester, but delayed due to the epidemic. We invited the students' parents to honor the ceremony," said Qin.
In the past three years, due to safety concerns in the country's fights against the epidemic, students were frequently restricted to their homes and educated through the schools' online guided study.
Ma Luo, director of the student sports center at the Guangqumen Middle School in Beijing's Dongcheng District, said the PE classes this term would focus on helping students "gradually restore their physical strength with setting-up exercises and ball games at first instead of running."
With downgraded epidemic control measures, school campuses no longer require negative nucleic acid test results to enter the campus.
Pupils have class on their first day of the new semester at the Experimental Primary School of the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)
"In accordance with the new guidelines, we conducted a health survey of teachers and students prior to the start of the new term," said Duan Chunlan, a school doctor at the Qingnian Lake Primary School in Beijing's Xicheng District.
Students are required to report their body temperature before returning to school, according to the requirements of the education authorities. If students experience symptoms such as fever, they are required to report them truthfully and delay their return to school while confirming the COVID-19 infection status.
At the Shanghai Experimental School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, thorough preparations have been made to ensure a safe and hygienic environment. An ample supply of disinfection materials has been obtained and kept on hand to maintain the highest standards of hygiene.
Partitions remain on dining tables in the school cafeteria for epidemic prevention.
Xia Hongmei, principal of the school, said that in the new semester, the off-peak dining requirements will continue to be in effect to limit the gathering of people.
Different regions of the country began the spring semester at different times. Schools in the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong started the new term as early as Feb. 6, while northeast China's Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces are scheduled to start the new term later this month due to local weather conditions.
Schools in north China's Hebei Province and central China's Henan Province started the new term on Feb. 7.
Li Baozhi, principal of Hengshui No. 4 Middle School in Hebei, encouraged students to approach the first day of classes with a relaxed and stress-free demeanor.
"It is normal to feel a little uncomfortable in the classroom," Li said, extending his best wishes for the new semester.
The principal noted that after an extended period of home study amidst the epidemic, students may be grappling with various psychological pressures due to a lack of vital interpersonal communication intertwined with adolescent impulsiveness. To address this, the school has dedicated the first day of the new term to a lesson on mental wellness, aimed at fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
Students attend psychology class at Hengshui No. 4 Middle School in Hengshui, north China's Hebei Province, Feb. 13, 2023. (Xinhua)
The Shanghai Experimental School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences distributed seeds to each student on the first day of the new term. Principal Xia encouraged students to "sow hope" as they plant the seeds and tend to the growth of the young saplings.
Li Mingxin, principal of the Qingnian Lake Primary School in Beijing, informed students that the school would organize a series of activities such as kite flying, hiking and the outdoor sports of cuju, which is the ancient form of modern-day football.