Visa Crunch

International Students In Shanghai Affected As Teachers Leave Amid Recent COVID-19 Lockdown

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise despite the weeks-long lockdown, an increasing number of Shanghai teachers are choosing to leave the city. The end-of-March lockdown is having an impact on China’s schools and economic activity, as thousands of expats and Chinese residents are unable to return to work.

Foreign residents in Shanghai are being evacuated as reports of the city’s deplorable living conditions emerge. Teachers at many of Shanghai’s international schools are resigning or temporarily relocating in large numbers, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).

“It’s not just in Shanghai; teachers at the best international school in China have left,” said Li Min, a Fudan University graduate. “They sent out a letter saying that while they have more than 100 years of history as an international school, the lockdowns have left them feeling hopeless in just a short period of time.”

According to RFA, a letter from a Shanghai international school addressed to parents stated that 28 teachers may leave Shanghai by June 2, 2022, with only 24 expected to return in time for the next academic year. Meanwhile, the school will transition to distance learning in order to better accommodate teachers. “Rather than forcing our top teachers to resign or hesitate about their responsibilities,” the letter said, “we must create an environment that retains them.”

Shanghai residents are suffering as a result of China’s zero-COVID policy, with many going hungry due to food shortages. Due to an increase in Omicron cases, the city, which had adopted less stringent quarantine rules at the start of the pandemic, abruptly imposed a lockdown in late March. As per CNN, the government initially referred to it as a four-day “temporary pause” in which they planned to test the entire population, isolate positive cases, and reopen the city. As a result, many Shanghai residents had overlooked the need to stock up on supplies.

With no end in sight to the lockdown, Shanghai residents are finding it very difficult to find food. Restaurants and other food services remain closed until further notice, and residents’ mobility restrictions make it impossible to visit supermarkets. As a result, many expats are rushing to leave the country.

The threat of food shortages isn’t the only problem confronting expats in Shanghai. As the number of cases increases, reports of limited access to hospitals, as well as severe conditions in isolation centres, are emerging. This concerns not only teachers in China’s schools, but also parents of international students.

This comes after reports of families being separated into different isolation centres, a decision allegedly made to better manage differing virological statuses. However, Le Monde reported in early April the publication of a video showing children isolated in a Shanghai hospital lying on a bed with bars, which alarmed many.

International students detained at Fudan University are also being transported to isolation facilities in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and other provinces outside of Shanghai, according to RFA. According to a Shanghai resident, these students were removed from temporary hospitals due to a lack of space. As a result, consulates are coordinating efforts to evacuate international students from Shanghai. The South Korean consulate, for example, has urged Fudan University authorities to release the students who remain imprisoned on campus.

“The Korean consulate wrote to Fudan University because the school wasn’t cooperating … and refused to allow them to leave,” the consulate said in a letter. “Last week, half of the international students in China were evacuated by plane. There are still [South] Korean students in various schools.” Students were described as “extremely panicked and helpless” in the letter.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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