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Defense Department schools in Korea can plan farewell activities to conclude school year

Osan Middle High School seventh-grader Charis Henry searches for a book at the Osan Air Base library in South Korea, Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 21, 2020

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Students at Defense Department schools in South Korea may salvage some memories of the school year hijacked by the coronavirus, after all.

The school district there is working on optional, end-of-year activities such as returning school property, yearbook signings, bidding farewell to teachers and class parties, spokesman Miranda Ferguson of Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific said Thursday.

If plans materialize, events could begin as soon as Thursday, according to a May 21 letter from DODEA Korea District Superintendent Jeff Arrington to parents, sponsors and students.

Arrington’s letter came a day after U.S. Forces Korea eased some restrictions on troops aimed at curbing the virus’ spread. USFK also lowered its health condition level for all bases except those in and around Seoul.

Arrington in his letter asked for “patience and flexibility” among students and parents as schools complete their planning. Attendance at any activity is not mandatory, he wrote.

“These optional activities will vary by school and meet the guidance of installation commanders and USFK measures for health and safety,” Arrington wrote.

DODEA schools in South Korea closed Feb. 23 due to the pandemic and started online instruction three days later. Graduation ceremonies are planned as virtual events, as well. The school year is scheduled to end June 9.

“It is our hope that these activities will provide some closure for students and parents who have requested opportunities to return to the school before the end of the year,” Arrington wrote.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com
Twitter: @DaveOrnauer