Cram schools oppose government plan to tighten sanctions

05-Jun-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Ministry of Education is facing a backlash from cram schools over its plan to revise relevant laws to secure the legal grounds for sanctioning them if they violate quarantine rules, according to an association representing private learning institutes, Thursday.

The ministry’s decision to have cram schools strengthen quarantine comes as the spread of COVID-19 shows no signs of abating in the metropolitan area, while students are returning to classrooms under the government’s phased reopening plan for schools.

As more and more infections have been reported among students in private cram schools, worries linger over the continued spread of the virus among students who have particularly vulnerable immune systems.

The Korea Association of Hagwons (KAH) said, however, it will reject any unilateral decision from the education ministry.

“Most hagwons across the country are having a hard time financially and are even seriously considering shutting down their businesses amid the virus crisis,” the KAH President Lee You-won said.

“Regulating all private institutions based on issues that took place at a particular establishment is just giving more problems to those who are already struggling,” she said.

The association said the education ministry is seeking to force them to take all the responsibility for the prevention of infections among student while the ministry has pushed through the reopening of schools. It said the government’s move to revise the law is irrational as provincial governments and governors are already able to order facility closure or impose fines against business owners or establishments that violate quarantine regulations.

The education ministry believes that the hagwons are not following quarantine guidelines because there is no legal basis for the education authorities to independently sanction them. If hagwons violate quarantine rules, the health minister and the heads of metropolitan and provincial governments can issue administrative orders, including the closure of facilities, under the Infectious Disease Prevention Act, but superintendents of education offices and the education minister have no authority to do so.

The ministry and regional education offices jointly inspected 128,837 private cram schools and teaching centers in the Seoul metropolitan area, including Gyeonggi Province and Incheon. As of May 29, 10,356 schools failed to comply with quarantine guidelines such as the provision of hand sanitiser, monitoring of temperatures onsite, the wearing of masks and keeping an appropriate distance between students and instructors.

The government, however, has reportedly not decided on whether to include compulsory closure in the revision of the law.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 39 new cases Thursday, including 33 local infections bringing the country’s total to 11,629. All of the newly identified domestic transmissions were reported in Seoul and the adjacent areas. On the same day the number of cases tied to 30 small churches in Incheon, west of Seoul, and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital reached 63, up 10 from a day earlier.


Category: Korea

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