Coronavirus rules relaxed, MCAS Iwakuni lets children return to Japanese schools
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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Parents working on the air station whose children attend off-base schools sent those students back to class Monday after Marine Corps officials eased coronavirus restrictions.
Dozens of students have been away from school since March when base commander Col. Lance Lewis ordered all personnel subject to the status of forces agreement to keep their children out of local schools.
Although the Defense Department runs its own school system overseas, some U.S. service members and Defense Department civilian employees choose to send their children to Japanese schools
Lewis also asked Japanese workers on base to keep their children home.
“Our local area has had zero new cases for some time, which has allowed us, as a base, the opportunity to re-evaluate our COVID prevention measures,” he said in an update Sunday on the base’s official Facebook page, authorizing the change. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
The return to school coincided with the relaxing of many other restrictions at MCAS Iwakuni. Personnel may now go off base for take-out food, medical or veterinary appointments and to return to their off-base jobs.
Elementary and junior high schools near MCAS Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan reopened May 7. Schools in Japan closed due to coronavirus concerns in early March, and the current Japanese school year began in April.
When the restrictions began, the base worked with the Iwakuni school board to ensure that children who stayed home from school at Lewis’ request were not penalized.