MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture--Almost a year after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced the closure of Ishigami Daini Elementary School, students could finally return on Feb. 27 to their beloved school.
Principal Susumu Honda reassured the students of the safety of their school.
“We have thoroughly cleaned the school building with the help of parents," he told them. "Now you can study free from anxiety.”
Along with Ishigami Daini, students resumed classes at another elementary school and two junior high schools in the city’s Haramachi district on Feb. 27 in their own school buildings for the first time since families evacuated following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant accident that started in March last year.
Part of Minami-Soma where the schools are located had been designated an evacuation preparation zone, meaning that residents were required to be prepared to evacuate in an emergency.
The four schools were the last of the 12 municipal schools in the zone to resume classes since the designation was lifted in late September.
Of the four schools, three are located in the Ishigami area, which had relatively high levels of radiation, and one in the Shimoota area, which suffered extensive quake damage.
The city gave the green light to resume classes with the start of decontamination work along the school roads in sight and repair work of school buildings having been completed.
At Ishigami Daini, children arrived one after another after around 7:30 in the morning, some by a school bus from temporary housing in neighboring cities.
It marked the first time in 11 months that second-graders or older pupils and the first day that first-graders could attend their own school.
“I like the school building I have commuted to for five years," said Kusui Fushimi, a sixth-grader. "I am very glad to be able to graduate from this school.”
A 41-year-old mother who drove her children, first- and third-graders, to school said, “Even though children are glad to be back to school, I just hope the city will push forward with decontamination work.”
Meanwhile, in another part of Minami-Soma, designated a no-entry zone, five schools located there are continuing to borrow classroom space from other schools in the city for their students.
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