The Korea Herald


Vacation, vaccination bring down COVID-19 cases in Seoul schools

Following vaccine plan for youths aged between 12-18, those born in 2010 become eligible for vaccination

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Jan. 4, 2022 - 16:06

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Students wearing masks watch a video at a graduation ceremony held at Haemil Middle School in Sejong on Dec. 31. (Yonhap) Students wearing masks watch a video at a graduation ceremony held at Haemil Middle School in Sejong on Dec. 31. (Yonhap)

With schools going into winter vacation and more youths being vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases in schools have decreased to the 1,200s.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Tuesday, 1,237 students from kindergarten to high school tested positive for COVID-19 in Seoul last week, along with 107 faculty members.

Cases of COVID-19 among students dropped by 34.2 percent, 642 cases from a total of 1,879 cases in the previous week.

Of the total cases involving students and officials, 535, or 39.8 percent, were household transmissions, while 365, or 27.1 percent were cases with unidentified infection routes. Transmissions in schools also accounted for 282 cases, or 21.2 percent.

In Seoul, there were 10,002 confirmed cases overall last week, marking a 0.1 percent decrease from the week before.

The city education office cited schools going into winter vacation for the significant decrease. More than 969 schools in Seoul went into winter vacation before Saturday, which accounts for almost three-quarters of schools in the area. With more schools to join the list, 92.5 percent of schools in Seoul will have gone into vacation by Friday.

Meanwhile, the vaccination rate of children and youths has surpassed 50 percent. As of Monday, more than 50.8 percent of those aged between 12 and 17 have been fully vaccinated. Some 75.1 percent have received the first dose of the vaccine.

From Tuesday, those born in 2010 whose 12th birthday has passed can be vaccinated for COVID-19. They will be administered the Pfizer vaccine on a three-week term. Those born in January and February in 2010 can make the reservations for vaccination for now.

The authorities said they will not implement the “vaccine pass” rule -- set to expand to youths from March -- for those born in 2010.

Though the authorities were to expand the vaccine mandate rule for multi-use facilities for those aged between 12 and 17 from February, the new measure has been postponed to March due to opposition from groups of parents, cram schools and more.

The vaccine mandate expansion met another hurdle as the Seoul Administrative Court granted an injunction request Tuesday to exclude study spaces used by teenagers such as cram schools, libraries or study cafes from its list of vaccine mandate facilities.

“We will do our best to have students return to schools in normalcy and school education to fully recover from the new semester starting in March,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said through a New Year’s greeting. “For the vaccination of youths, the government will come up with plans to support the cases of serious abnormal reactions.”

By Im Eun-byel (