New coronavirus infections mar South Korean students’ return to school

Above, a senior student is greeted by a teacher, second from right, upon his arrival at the Kyungbock High School in Seoul, South Korea on May 20, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 20 May 2020

New coronavirus infections mar South Korean students’ return to school

  • Some students were sent home almost as soon as they had walked through their school gates for the first time this year
  • Korea has reported 11,110 coronavirus cases, with 263 deaths

SEOUL: The discovery of new coronavirus cases in two students marred the reopening of South Korean schools on Wednesday, forcing 75 high schools to turn pupils away amid fears among some teachers that it was unsafe for classes to resume.
Some students were sent home almost as soon as they had walked through their school gates for the first time this year, after the two high school seniors tested positive in Incheon on Wednesday morning, the education ministry said.
The beginning of the spring semester had been postponed several times since March as South Korea battled the first large coronavirus outbreak outside China, with classes held online.
But with daily coronavirus cases sharply down since a February peak, most of South Korea’s 2,356 high schools reopened under new health protocols to prevent the spread of the disease. All schools will reopen in stages between May 20 and June 1.
Teachers with thermometers and hand sanitizers welcomed seniors at school gates, checking each student for signs of fever.
Some of the 17-18 year-olds put their arms around their friends’ shoulders as they were reunited, only for teachers to tell them to keep their distance. Private sanitation contractors on motorcycles drove back and forth spraying disinfectant.
Under the new sanitation rules, students and teachers must wear masks except at mealtimes and clean their desks, which will be spaced 1 meter (3 feet) apart.
Some teachers are unhappy with the arrangements. One told Reuters on condition of anonymity that certain rules — such as setting specific times of the day when students can use the bathroom — were “practically impossible to implement.”
“I feel like we’re carrying a time bomb,” said the high school teacher in Gyeonggi Province.
The education ministry keeps track of whether teachers or students have a fever using an online self-diagnostic system and anyone with a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) must stay home.
If any student tests positive for the virus, the entire school will switch to online classes for at least two weeks.
Korea has reported 11,110 coronavirus cases, with 263 deaths.


Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

Updated 36 min 16 sec ago

Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

  • Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes

LONDON: An independent British investigator looking into allegations that UK soldiers committed war crimes in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 said Tuesday that all but one of the thousands of complaints have been dropped.
The Service Prosecuting Authority director Andrew Cayley told BBC radio that it was “quite possible” that none of the original allegations will lead to a prosecution.
Cayley did not provide details of the allegation in the last remaining case.
British combat troops fought alongside other coalition forces in an effort to quell an Islamic insurgency that followed the 2003 US invasion and subsequent fall and execution of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes ranging from rape and torture to mock executions and other atrocities.
A UK tribunal struck off Shiner after finding him guilty of misconduct and dishonesty in connection with the allegations in 2017.
Cayley told the BBC that it was likely that no action would be taken in a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) probe.
“My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion,” he said.
A lawyer representing some of the soldiers accused by Shiner called for a public apology over the “vile war crime slurs.”
“At long last, this witch hunt is coming to an end,” lawyer Hilary Meredith said.
The UK Defense Ministry said in 2012 that it had paid £15.1 million ($19 million, 17 million euros) to more than 200 Iraqis who had accused British troops of illegal detention and torture.