Japanese schools don’t have the best reputation for flexibility regarding student conduct regulations, or even all that much common sense in the formation of the rules to begin with. In a year with circumstances as unusual as 2020, that presents a lot of potential problems, and it looks like one school in Kyushu has dropped the ball pretty badly.
In talking with newspaper Nishi Nippon Shimbun, a mother shared her frustrations about the municipal junior high school her daughter attends in Fukuoka City. As part of the school’s coronavirus precautions, classroom windows are being left open during lessons, in order to keep them ventilated and lower the chance of infection. In and of itself, that seems like a wise decision, but the high in Fukuoka this week is only about 13 degrees Celsius with a low of around 5 degrees, and things are only going to get colder until spring comes.
In the meantime, the open-window policy means students are basically spending the day in outdoor-level coldness, but while still being required to wear their school uniforms, which aren’t designed with warmth as a major priority, especially the girls’ version, which has a skirt. So can they at least bundle up during class? Nope. The school’s dress code allows for only the addition of a specific sweater or cardigan designated by the school as part of the uniform. Want to wear a heavier sweatshirt, or maybe a high-necked undershirt to keep the draft off your neck? Sorry, not allowed. Oh, and if you walked to school wearing gloves or a scarf, you’re required to take them off in the school’s entryway, please, and keep them off until you leave at the end of the day. No wearing them during class time.
While the potential discomfort and health risks of keeping the windows open all day can be arguably justified as a coronavirus countermeasure, there doesn’t seem to be any rationale for the “no extra warm clothing” rule other than an unwillingness to rethink the pre-existing dress code, even while adding the open-windows-in-winter protocol.
Making the situation especially aggravating is that Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has specifically asked schools to consider relaxing their dress codes this winter due to drops in classroom temperatures caused by increased ventilation requirements. However, the ultimate decision on whether to allow students to wear warmer, non-regulation articles of clothing is being left up to individual schools, leaving the door open to situations like the one the upset mother and daughter now find themselves in.
Considering that Japanese schools can be uncomfortably cold for uniform-wearing students even with the windows closed, here’s hoping that the daughter’s school eventually comes around on the matter, especially since neighboring Saga Prefecture seems to be taking a more enlightened stance on dress codes by no longer checking what color bra schoolgirls are wearing.
Source: Nishi Nippon Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko
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