Schools in medium- and high-risk areas in Jiangsu province, which has been hit hardest in the latest COVID-19 outbreak in China, will postpone the return of students for the new semester.
The Jiangsu Provincial Education Department said primary and secondary schools in regions classified as low-risk areas for COVID-19 will start the fall semester on schedule, which is usually on Sept 1.
In regions classified as medium- or high-risk areas, the new semester will start 21 days after their risk level is adjusted to low, and students should be prepared to return to schools at different times.
Schools that have to delay the start of the autumn semester will be able to provide online courses to students.
All the students at the province's universities and colleges have been told not to return before Sept 15.
In the provincial capital, Nanjing, local education authorities told a news conference on Sunday that all the city's primary and secondary schools and kindergartens will postpone the start of the new school year.
"The new semester will start 21 days after all the regions in the city are classified as low-risk areas," said Dai Xinghai, deputy director of Nanjing's education bureau. "We will publish the schedule three days in advance."
Jiangsu recorded 18 new locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday, all of them in Yangzhou, the provincial health commission said on Sunday. Yangzhou has reported 546 local cases since July 20.
The city hit hardest in the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the province, it launched mass nucleic acid test screening in its downtown area on Friday to find those who had missed the previous rounds of testing, ThePaper.cn, an online news outlet, reported.
Community workers, volunteers and property management staff were mobilized to go door to door to verify whether people had been tested.
Those who do not take part in the unified testing will have their lack of trustworthiness recorded on the public credit collection and service platform, which may affect their personal credit, consumption and employment in the future, according to a statement issued by the local public security bureau.
In addition, according to different circumstances, they may be given warnings, fines and detention, or face even more severe penalties, it said.