Japan: Crisis forces 169 schools to relocate or close

05/17/2011 21:06


SENDAI — A total of 169 public schools in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures have been forced to temporarily relocate or close in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami due to damaged facilities and radiation fears, local officials said Monday.

About 85 percent of the affected schools, or 145 of the total, have been able to restart lessons by borrowing classrooms at other schools or utilizing facilities at schools that had closed down before the disaster, according to regional board of education officials.

The remaining 24 schools have been shut in Fukushima Prefecture, where the government has designated no-entry zones centering on a 20-km radius from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex. Area students had to transfer to other schools in their current respective evacuation zones.

Some schools with large student populations have had to split up to conduct lessons at several campuses. Other, smaller schools have had to share one location. With many facilities being flooded with students to double or even triple the normal capacity, places like gymnasiums and music rooms are now being used as classrooms, teachers said.

In the city of Fukushima, most schools are conducting their physical education classes indoors amid concerns about radioactive substances in the air and soil, municipal education board officials said.

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