Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors in South Korea had their temperature checked and rubbed their hands with sanitizer as they returned to school Wednesday, many for the first time since late last year after their new term was repeatedly pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic.

Students and teachers were required to wear masks and some schools installed plastic partitions around desks. In a reminder that the so-called “new normal” was anything but, more than 60 schools near Seoul quickly sent their students home as a precaution after two students who hadn’t even attended class were found infected.

A phased reopening of South Korean schools is expected to be complete by June 8, and comes as the number of new infections in the country has fallen to around 30 per day, down from hundreds each day in early March.

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The resumption of once-routine aspects of daily life that were upended by the pandemic has picked up speed in recent weeks, as governments and communities try to strike a balance between keeping infections from flaring anew and allowing economies to function.

What a return to normal looks like varies widely,

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