Good news, I think.
It was reported in the Yomiuri Shimbun yesterday that five primary and middle schools in Mimami-Soma, Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) have begun classes for the first time since in their own hometown since the Japanese government dissolved emergency evacuation preparation zones that included all or part of five municipalities in the prefecture.
There are 887 students total in the three primary schools and two middle schools in the town's Haramachi district, which is down from 2,173 students before the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Despite the fact that the evacuation zone has been deemed safe, many parents still drove their kids to school fearing the kids would still be exposed to ambient radiation in the area.
At the primary schools, many children wore masks to avoid breathing in radioactive materials in the air - or at least that was the fear. Radiation levels are down to safe levels.At Haramachi Daini Chu Gakko (Haramachi Daini Middle School) was previously used as an evacuation center so the classroom lacked furniture, so the new first-year class was asked to carry their own desks and chairs to the classroom.
(Ed. Note: You think they - they being the teachers or the school staff - would have actually set the classrooms up for the kids; made it habitable and comfortable for them on their first day back! Shame!)
Because of on-going fears of radiation, the five schools have restricted outdoor activities for the students (and teachers) to a mere two hours a day. As well, the schools require the students to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as masks when they go out for physical education classes and other occasions - probably a good thing as the weather is starting to get chilly
(Ed. Note: I have never understood the need for short sleeved shirts and shorts for the students during gym class or during club activity to be less than comfortable wearing clothing in which they could freeze or catch cold in! I know you don't get a cold from the cold, but it sure as hell compromise your immune system's effectiveness by making the likelihood of illness higher.)
(Ed. Note: Actually, I know why they force the kids to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts... it's because that's what they have always done. Japan, despite its penchant for progress, often moves at a snail's pace when real change is required, but rushes when perhaps it shouldn't.)
Still, despite the restrictions imposed on the students, at least there is a sense of normalcy beginning to enter their lives again. But really, if there really is a concern about radioactivity in the air, why rush the kids and teachers back so soon.
By Andrew Joseph