Coronavirus: How Are Japan’s Parents Handling School Closures?

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Following a request from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on March 2, nearly all schools across Japan suspended classes until April to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. With over 600 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 infection in the country, it probably felt like the right thing to do. But how are Japan’s parents coping with this decision? Let’s turn to Twitter to find out.

Kids’ Day at the Office

Some of the people most affected by the extended school break are working Japanese mothers. Even in families where both parents earn a paycheck, it’s still too often expected that the woman should take care of the children.

Having not planned for the spring vacation to start so early, many Japanese mothers began taking their children with them to their office jobs. Not the most exciting place on the planet to be but children are very resourceful, and as Twitter user @darkmatter_tomo found out, kids don’t need much more than some paper, markers, and the office’s humidifier to make their own fun.

A Coronavirus-inspired Romeo and Juliet?

In a tweet that’s currently been liked nearly 370,000 times, @i_common_2 wrote about having the following conversation with her eldest son:

– Mom, I know school is out because of the virus but… think I could go and meet some friends?
– Hm? Well, I don’t want you walking around outside but if you want to go visit someone that should be OK. Someone invited you over?
– N-no… I want to give a White Day present… to this girl…

March 14 is White Day in Japan, when men give gifts to women as thanks for all the chocolate they received on Valentine’s Day. But with school out, many students won’t have the chance to deliver their White Day presents to their classmates.

Unless they go outside among people, where the virus lives. For some, the risk apparently seems more than worth it. @i_common_2 later added that, after consultation with his sister, the son decided to go with Godiva chocolate for his White Day gift.

On the Lookout for Rogue Kids

Apparently older Japanese people are starting their own Kid Patrols, at least according to @57lD2vzLfPZKRw9. When her mother was in the sauna with a friend, the other person told her, “I saw elementary school kids playing in the park, despite school being on break. I’ll report back if I see them again.”

The point of this is probably for older people to avoid children and all the germs they’re carrying, but it also comes off as wanting kids to stay inside the house permanently. Tweets exactly like this have been popping up a lot since the outbreak started.

In a Tweet that’s been liked nearly 50,000 times, user @gororin_dararin also complained about people reporting on kids playing in the park as if they were a pack of infectious zombies. The mother of two then pointed out that kids need to play outside and that a month cooped up at home would drive them crazy. It’s probably driving the kids crazy, too.

On the Verge of Turning Violent

Coronavirus infections in children tend to be mild. It doesn’t mean they should be allowed to go and lick the railings at train stations but it might give their parents a little peace of mind. In fact, the biggest danger from coronavirus infections in children might just come from other parents – in the form of violence.

In a tweet that has been liked nearly 80,000 times, @RumChoco029 explains that when an elementary student in Adachi, Tokyo, was diagnosed with the virus, the school’s parent group chat got together… and started talking about someone “finding the culprit.”

The tone of the conversation was apparently so troubling that it made @RumChoco029 fear for the child’s safety. In a bizarre twist, it seems that school being canceled and all students being forced to stay home is what helped protect the child’s identity.

“It was actually good that school was out,” @RumChoco029 wrote. As humans, this probably wasn’t our finest moment.

Feature image: MIA Studio / Shutterstock.com

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