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Wicked Weather Hits South China
Special> Wicked Weather Hits South China
UPDATED: January 21, 2011 Web Exclusive
Hunan Heals From the Storm
Extremely cold temperatures have caused school officials in Hunan Province to scramble to keep their students warm and safe. More than 500 schools in 70 cities and counties in Hunan had to suspend or cancel classes after freezing weather arrived after January 1


In the city of Shaoyang, located in Xiahuaqiao Town in south China's Hunan Province, primary school children gather around a small fire to stay warm. Their school has provided heating equipment to keep the children warm during the recent cold snap (LI AIMIN) 

At 8 a.m. on the morning of January 10, Yushi Middle School in Dong Autonomous County in Xinhuang of Hunan Province was strangely quiet. The school was just one of many in the area that had decided to suspend classes in the wake of the cold snap that had recently arrived in the area.

The county of Xinhuang was not the only area affected by the recent storm. More than 500 schools in 70 cities and counties in Hunan had to suspend or cancel classes after freezing weather arrived after January 1. Approximately 860,000 teachers and students were affected by the cancellations.

Educational officials in the Province were quick to act after the cold weather set in. Temporary class suspensions and advance recesses were granted; supplies of hot food and blankets were shored up and transportation to and from school was arranged for the students. The officials did everything they could to ensure that the students' education would not be severely impacted by the frigid conditions.

"Our teachers are still staying in school right now to review exam papers; their students are anxiously waiting at home for the scores," said Wu Jianze, principal of Yushi middle school. Considering the possibility that the cold weather might not let up, all primary and middle schools in Xinhuang moved up their exams to January 7 and 8. The schools also moved their winter vacation period up, starting on January 12 instead of January 18.

Yushi Middle School has about 160 students. Since some of the students live in rural areas far from the school, extra care was taken to ensure that these students would be able to make it back from school safely. Parents were informed in advance to pick up their students before the weather could get worse.

Wu said that although the school's heaters are small and simple, they are still enough to keep the kids warm and happy. Every classroom in Yushi Middle School has a small homemade stove. Students crowd around the charcoal-filled stoves to warm themselves. "The small stoves at least guarantee that the students can read and study a little easier," said Wu.

(Source: People's Daily, translated by ZHONG MING)

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