Parents in Japan and Hong Kong struggle as schools shut


Costs are growing for parents in Japan and Hong Kong with schools shut until April because of the coronavirus.

Schools are facing pressure to refund fees as children are forced to stay at home.

On Thursday, Japan joined Hong Kong in shutting schools in a stepped-up effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Schools in Japan are shut until 8th April while in Hong Kong they will remain closed until at least 20th April.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe made the call on shutting schools after a meeting of the country’s antivirus task force on Thursday. He said the next two weeks are critical to control the spread of the virus and “stem the risk of many children and teachers becoming infected through gathering for long hours every day.”

Parents on social media criticised the decision as one that could keep wage earners at home. But the government said it would work with companies.

“We will continue to urge public services and private companies to make it easier for people to take time off,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Friday.

Offices and businesses in both Hong Kong and Japan have asked many employees to work from home. But parents have found working from home and balancing online classes for their children difficult.

Singapore and South Korea have so far kept schools open, using extensive screening, checking temperatures and requiring parents to test children at home.

Source: BBC News