Education

Kyrgyzstan starts unusual, pandemic-stricken school year

By Maksat Osmonaliyev

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First-graders and their parents applaud welcoming remarks by the school principal and teachers. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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First-graders listen to a speech given by the principal during the ceremonial first-day lineup. The younger sister of one of the children came along to look at the school. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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First-graders enter the school. At this rural school, 34 children are enrolled in the first grade this year. They will be divided into two classes of 17 students. Before the pandemic, classrooms had about 30 pupils each. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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Schools now have increased safety measures: the entrance has hand sanitiser and thermometers. Upon entering the school, first-graders undergo a temperature check. Employees do not allow feverish children to enter the school and tell their parents to seek medical care for them. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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A pupil gives flowers to a teacher who will teach his class until the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, the pupils will have different teachers. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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A pupil introduces herself to the teacher and her classmates. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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A pupil listens attentively to her teacher. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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Zarina Kaparova, teacher of the 1st-grade B section, begins the first lesson by showing visual materials about Kyrgyzstan. She will not only have to teach lessons but monitor the children's safety, reminding them of pandemic-related safety measures. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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First-graders sit at their school desks. This year, because of the pandemic, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education is suggesting seating pupils in a checkerboard pattern. This arrangement makes it possible to widen the distance between children. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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During recess, the first-graders play on a merry-go-round. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

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First-grader Ayyma Suyorbekova rushes into the arms of her grandmother to tell about her first impressions at school. Her grandmother is happy that her granddaughter has begun her studies. She agrees with the Ministry of Education's decision to have first-graders learn in classrooms rather than at home. "At this stage, the foundation for knowledge is laid and only teachers will be capable of providing a good education," she said. September 1, K. Ibraimaliyev School, Kurpuldok village, Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

BISHKEK -- On September 1, the new academic year began throughout Kyrgyzstan.

But this year only first-graders and their parents attended the traditional ceremonial lineup on the first day of class; those children will be the only ones attending classes in person.

The other pupils will study remotely as part of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This year, 156,430 first-graders took a seat at a school desk for the first time, according to the Ministry of Education's press office.

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Ainazik Myktybekova, a first-grader attending school for the first time, sits on a bench on September 1 as she waits for her grandmother to pick her up from the K. Ibraimaliyev School of Kurpuldok village in Panfilov District, Chui Province. [Maksat Osmonaliyev]

The Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Health, has developed a procedure that allows schools to comply with the appropriate public health rules when teaching first grade.

If a school has a large number of first-graders, it will divide them into two sections and seat each section in its own room in a checkerboard pattern.

The schools will comply with all health standards, said the ministry.

As of Wednesday (September 9), the country had 44,613 known cases of COVID-19, including 1,061 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University global case-tracking site.

The number of known COVID-19 cases increased by 87 compared to the previous day, Kyrgyz public health chief Ainura Akmatova said September 9, according to 24.kg.

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