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Defense Department schools in South Korea will only provide virtual instruction when school starts for the 2020-21 school year, according to a letter from the district superintendent Aug. 18, 2020.
Defense Department schools in South Korea will only provide virtual instruction when school starts for the 2020-21 school year, according to a letter from the district superintendent Aug. 18, 2020. (Matthew Keeler/Stars and Stripes)

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Defense Department schools in South Korea will reopen Monday with remote learning only, following the lead of U.S. Forces Korea, which recently reinstated a higher risk level for spread of the coronavirus, according to the school district superintendent.

Schools in the Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific planned to start the new school year with some students in traditional classrooms, the choice of most students and parents, and virtual instruction.

However, the heightened risk level, in military terms a return to Health Protection Condition-Charlie, also means a switch to only virtual instruction at base schools in South Korea for military families.

“In close coordination with our military leaders, we have determined that all (DODEA Pacific West) schools will begin the year in the remote setting,” district Superintendent Jeff Arrington announced in a letter dated Tuesday.

Students’ families should have information from school principals by Wednesday on signing out technology resources for home learning, how to access students’ remote learning classrooms and teacher assignments and schedules.

“Please understand,” Arrington wrote, “that first priority for laptop checkout will be reserved for students enrolled in the Virtual School and students with no access to compatible technology to access remote learning.”

Students who opted for virtual school as their primary means of instruction this school year were assigned virtual classrooms with dedicated teachers.

The switch to online classrooms means the remaining students will receive remote instruction from the teachers they expected to see in brick-and-mortar classrooms.

Following a recent surge in coronavirus cases in South Korea, USFK returned to condition Charlie on Monday after just one week in the lower condition Bravo. The change also brings tighter restrictions on travel and activities.

DODEA-Korea schools had been closed Feb. 23 due to rising concerns about the coronavirus, with students in remote instruction through the end of last school year, except for a few days in late May.

Teachers returned to work on Monday to set up their classrooms for an eventual transition back to brick-and-mortar schools when conditions improve, the letter said. They are also being trained on coronavirus medical protocols and mitigation strategies.

Grab-and-go lunches will be available in school cafeterias from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. starting Monday and breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. beginning Aug. 31 at Humphreys’ Central and West elementary schools and Osan and Daegu middle-high schools.

“In order to pick up meals, families will be asked to wear appropriate face coverings and adhere to social-distancing guidelines,” Arrington’s letter stated. The grab-and-go meal program is available to students participating in the free- and reduced-meal program.

The letter also included links to Pacific West’s Parent University site, general information about school opening and frequently asked questions: and DODEA-Pacific’s return to brick-and-mortar school plan with accompanying information about mitigation strategies.

“We appreciate your partnership, flexibility and support as we work together to provide all students with continuity in education during these unprecedented times,” Arrington’s letter said.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com Twitter @daveornauer

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