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China's international schools struggle as teachers, students remain stuck abroad

October 07, 2020

Original Article: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/covid-19-china-international-schools-teachers-students-stranded-13082180

China's international schools are reopening this month but will be short of key elements: Teachers and pupils.

Schools across the world are grappling with disruptions, but the situation for international schools in China is particularly challenging as swathes of staff members and students left the country for Chinese New Year holidays just as COVID-19 spread and many are still stranded overseas due to travel restrictions.

As many as 40 percent of teachers and students due to start the term this month remain abroad, according to the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools which represents 58 schools catering to mostly foreign nationals.

A survey of its member schools in China in early July found just over 3,000 teachers and their dependents were unable to enter China, and it estimated another 700 people from schools which did not respond could be in the same position.

"This is probably the biggest issue that we have faced as an organisation since SARS in 2003," said Tom Ulmet, executive director at the association, adding that schools were trying to cope with the lack of teachers by increasing class sizes and moving lessons online. 

Authorities have begun processing visa applications for foreign staff in China, but flying into China is not easy due to a limited number of international flights. 

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