It comes after citizens across North Korea celebrated the ruling Worker’s Party Foundation Day earlier this month. According to sources inside North Korea, the country’s education ministry instructed educational departments to start the school year on 1 November.
One source in the North Pyongan Province told Daily NK: “The number of fever patients has risen nationwide since the Party Foundation Day events, and Central Anti-Epidemic Committee figures suggest that 18 percent of those who have symptoms are students.
“On the afternoon of 12 October, the education ministry instructed provincial education departments not to open schools because a decision [on when to open schools] would be reached on the weekend.
“Then, yesterday morning [15 October], it suddenly handed down another directive for schools to open on 1 November.”
It suggests that due to an increase in people getting fever symptoms after Party Foundation Day celebrations, North Korea’s leadership has decided to delay the start of the school year again.
North Korea is yet to confirm any cases of COVID-19, but the country took extensive measures to restrict travel and imposed quarantines to stop the spread of the virus.
Another source in Pyongyang told Daily NK: “On Thursday, the education ministry ordered schools to restart classes from 1 November.
“Central universities – which had already reopened but had suspended classes [so that students could prepare] for the Party Foundation Day events – are also restarting classes from the first of November.”
Central universities are institutions directly managed by North Korea’s education ministry.
The source in the North Pyongan Province said North Korean authorities told schools and public health authorities to check and report student’s health by the past weekend.
They added that teachers and doctors in North Pyongan Province are visiting students’ homes to check and report on their health.
The source said: “Education and health workers have been working in perfect order ever since the directive to report on the health of the students without the slightest of errors was handed down.
“The authorities haven’t delayed the start of the school year because the problem is serious; rather, the aim seems to be to accurately grasp the health of the students following the [Party Foundation Day] events [before starting the school year again].”
In Pyongyang, hospital staff have been mobilised to take mucus and temperature tests as well as X-rays on students who took part in the celebrations.
Anyone found to have fever or other symptoms will be ordered to isolate, according to the Pyongyang source.
North Korean authorities have also said there will be not winter vaccination this year.
The source in North Pyongan Province said: “Parents have just been tolerating the fact that the border remains closed and no more smuggling is allowed.
“But now that the authorities are saying classes will resume without a winter vacation during the coldest months, they are sighing and commenting that they will again have to [give money to the schools] to prepare for the winter months.
“They are feeling a great deal of pressure about [handing over the money], even though they know it’s to ensure their kids don’t get frostbite and can study in warm [classrooms].”