The Japanese government does not plan to ask schools to close despite the recent countrywide surge of daily novel coronavirus infections to record levels, the education minister said Tuesday.
"At this point, we are not considering a request (for all schools to shut down)," Koichi Hagiuda, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, told a press conference.
The minister urged schools to exercise "maximum vigilance" as the number of daily coronavirus cases in Japan surpassed 2,000 for a fifth straight day on Sunday.
He said the education ministry will soon revise guidelines to ensure schools institute preventive measures including adequate ventilation in the winter, as experts have attributed the recent flare-ups to the cold weather that has led people to spend more time indoors in structures without sufficient airflow.
Hagiuda said Japan's standardized university entrance exams will be held in January as scheduled and that he has urged university representatives to take thorough measures against the virus.
In late February, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked all elementary, junior high and high schools to close temporarily due to a surge in coronavirus cases, an abrupt move that sparked confusion among pupils, parents and educational institutions.
The closure of many schools lasted until late May when the government completely lifted its declaration of a state of emergency over the virus.