Corona Virus /Japan School Closure Documents

Just wanted to share a few documents as souvenirs of my last few days as a teacher in Hiroshima Prefectural public high school.  These may be of interest to anyone who is interested in the recent unilateral school closings instituted by Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe last Thursday evening, and effective tomorrow (March 2, through the end of this month).

These closings, which were initiated at the highest level of Japanese national government came as a surprise to everyone, both Japanese and non-Japanese.  But as an American expat, the breadth and scope of such a policy being instituted from the top-down was and is unimaginable in an American context.

The closest American analog I can think of would be the closures that have taken place in certain States or local jurisdictions after natural disasters– Hurricane Katrina, for instance, in Louisiana, or perhaps Sandy in the Northeastern U.S.  But, to my knowledge, if there were blanket school closures in these instances, they were initiated at the State level, if not the local (e.g. city or county level).  It begs the question: does the executive branch of the U.S. government have the power to close schools across the United States?  This is a question that I won’t be able to answer here definitively.  Somehow I doubt it.  My instinct, given the contentiousness of “states rights” along educational lines, is that even if a U.S. President tried to make a move like Mr. Abe’s last week, that it would meet resistance if not outright defiance from some jurisdictions on ideological if not practical grounds.

One of the most glaring problems that these school closures have left is the problem of what working parents are supposed to do with their elementary-school-aged children, who are suddenly at home for the next month.  Will they get parental leave of some kind?  Will the state intervene again to provide care or those students who may need it?

The documents I have linked to this post provide a bit of a backdrop against which we can pose these bigger labor questions, and evaluate this specific school-closure policy in the face of an admittedly dangerous disease.  They could also serve as a useful body of evidence in a critique of authoritarian, centralized, top-down, bureaucratic education systems, which are kind of “a thing” here in Asia.

A brief outline of each document follows.

1) 保険だより  Dated 2/2/20 This is the periodic (monthly? twice-monthly?) newsletter of the school nurse’s office.  Last week, when this was released the school was getting over a bout of the flu.  Several students in each class had been absent.  And so this helpful brief outlines proper “manners” for dealing with cold and flu symptoms.  It recommends gargling as well as frequent hand-washing, and wearing masks.  These are all common sense habits, really.  But they are being more frequently referenced in public these days, like on the train, I’ve noticed.

2) Special Events 教育長より Dated Reiwa 2/ 2/ 27  This message from the Superintendent of Hiroshima Schools advises caution in the carrying out of large events in the prefecture– meant to include in particular things like graduation ceremonies.  March 1st is the date for the majority of graduation ceremonies around Japan.  This doc is similar to the School Nurse’s newsletter in content, but it has the force of a policy memo.

It recommends limiting the face-to-face interactions of participants, making preventative measures like alcohol disinfectant spray available, and limiting the number of participants to those directly participating in events.

*It was the evening of 2/27 that Mr. Abe made his announcement of the school closures.

3) 臨時休校について (連絡)Memo Regarding the Temporary Closure of Schools

This doc came down the pike in the middle of the day last Friday 2/28 along with the letter (Document 4) to be sent home with students.  In gives the dates 3/3 to 3/19 of the initial closure.  Closure is the wrong word though– teachers are still expected to be at work.  There will be no club or sports meetings.  Students are to check the school homepage twice daily for any updates, but emails will also be sent through the emergency email system.

4)  Dated 2/28  This is the offcial letter from the Superintendant of Hiroshima Prefectural Schools outlining in broad strokes the information provided in greater detail by our individual school in number 3.  It’s labeled 通知– “Notice” interestingly– not 連絡, “communication” or “memorandum,” which I take to mean that it is merely an official communication of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the previous evening.  The details are left to the individual school to work out within the framework set out by those actors higher up the bureaucratic chain– in this case stretching all the way up to the top!

So, that wraps up this batch of documents.  It hope it was at least a little enlightening.

All schools in Japan told to close until April over virus outbreak | The Japan Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s surprise school-closure request came as the number of confirmed COVID-19 virus patients surged, exceeding 200 across Japan as of Thursday

Source: All schools in Japan told to close until April over virus outbreak | The Japan Times

The Eggplant (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)

Source: The Eggplan (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)

Fun Facts About Standardistos

The Eggplant features News You Will Read Nowhere Else That’s a promise.

by Susan Ohanian

Historical Signposts of Standards

  • The Meek
    The Old Testament contains 163 references to the Common Core Curriculum Standards, the most cited being, “The meek shall inherit the Earth–after the Standardistos are through with it.”


  • Goat Blood
    The Old Testament called for animal sacrifice, goats for instance. This ritual was based on the Standard that without blood there can be no forgiveness. The New York Times editorial board has learned from this that kids today have it too easy.


  • Not Certified
    After bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, Moses kept mum about the fact that they had not been certified “scientific” and “rigorous” by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Achieve, Inc., or the New York Times editorial board.


  • Carrying Embers
    The concept of “Standard of the day” was invented by Tasmanian Aborigines looking for a way to carry embers from camp to camp for cooking during the middle Palaeolithic era. This did not save them from genocide.


  • Eye for an Eye
    In addition to the frequently quoted Standard “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” the Hammurabi Code clearly warned, “A Standard before breakfast makes Jack want to skip school.”


  • Asparagus
    Darwin proved that since an asparagus seed can float for 85 continuous days and an ocean current moves roughly 38 miles a day, that means an asparagus can sail 3,230 miles across the sea, and still germinate. The US Department of Education has awarded $1.3 billion to charter schools to find out what this means for 4th graders.


  • Will Rogers
    Although it’s true that Will Rogers said, “I never met a Standard I didn’t like,” he hadn’t seen David Coleman’s Common Core Close Reading on Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”


  • Sigmund Freud
    The Library of Congress, holder of the Sigmund Freud Archives, offered a “No comment” response to rumors of discovery of a letter from Freud to the head of the National Governors Association Best Practices division: “The fact that you advocate National Standards reveals your underlying insecurity as a regular guy and your dreams of having sex with 12-year-olds.”


  • Star Spangled Banner
    After 1904, when President Teddy Roosevelt negotiated for the US to take control of the construction of the Panama Canal, he advocated for a change in the last three lines of the first stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner”:

    Gave proof through the night that our rules were still there.
    O! say let our Performance Standards yet sweep
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the asleep.

    Roosevelt was instrumental in getting the new lyrics introduced at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. Once the Pullman National Monument, honoring the brutal 19th century robber baron and union buster is finished in Chicago, a monument to Roosevelt’s perspicacity is planned.


  • Eskimo Wisdom
    There is no Eskimo word for National Standards.


  • Working Oxen
    National Standards will wipe out the Biblical prohibition of working oxen on the 7th day. The US Department of Education agrees with the Business Roundtable that US school children must exhibit evidence of rigor by going to school every day.


  • Vows
    After exchanging vowed is the basement archives of discarded test questions at a CTB/McGraw Hill warehouse in Peoria, Judee McMaster and Rob Richman,who met while correcting Smarter Balanced open-ended items, journeyed to the Honeymoon Suite at an undisclosed Pearson venue and participated in National Standards Incident First Responders Bootcamp: DOE 380, 652, and 972 levels.


  • I always wanted to…
    CHICAGO– A 25-year-old Evanston man said he “wanted to be on the news” just before crashing his mini-van into a downtown Chicago TV studio during a live newscast, a prosecutor told a Cook County judge Tuesday.–Chicago Tribune
  • I always wanted to witness the wonder of pre-schoolers experiencing scientific inquiry,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told a member of the New York Times editorial board just before crashing his motorcycle while riding without a helmet into Pre-K for All school in the Bronx.
  • “I always wanted to teach kindergarten,” Bill Gates told a friend just before crashing his Humvee into a downtown Seattle school during Show-and-Tell.”
  • “I always wanted to tell 7th graders about the importance of education,” Hillary Clinton told First Camera news team just before sky diving into the waste disposal facility near an undisclosed school in Iowa.
  • ETS Time Share
    The governing board of Educational Testing Service has announced the availability of time share options at its test development center. Share options are divided into week long increments, with units sold as fixed, floating, or rotating weeks. Vacation clubs and points programs are available to those signing the college- and career-ready oath. One-to-three-bedroom suits, single-unit housing, and detached housing are available. Yurts and geodesic domes require premium. Annual maintenance fees apply.


  • Silly Putty
    Due to the Standards crisis, Silly Putty is 16% less silly than it was in 1951. The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) has affirmed that committee staff are authorized to testify on this matter–except where a privilege should be asserted.


  • Giraffe’s Tongue:
    A giraffe is optimally designed with a tongue that can extend to twenty inches, long enough to clean its ears. David Coleman is scheduled for an appearance on Education Nation to reveal the critical importance of this information.


  • Firmer Thighs
    You can already get whiter teeth, firmer thighs, stomach reduction, and knee replacements. Now, with National Standards, you can get a job in India.


  • Controlled Substances
    According to the new edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, more people have been driven insane through Common Core hysteria than by the use of controlled substances or bites from rabid bats.


  • Loss of Eye
    The incidence of loss of eye through incident with a Number 2 pencil has increased 698% since the introduction of the Common Core standards. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says this is why it’s imperative that every kindergartner be instructed by computer.

Corporate Conscientiousness

  • The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading US companies with more than $5 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 10 million employees, has introduced a new slogan to enhance the work of the Business Roundtable to provide nifty solutions to our nation’s two most difficult challenges– obesity and stupidity: “Starve a student, feed a Standard.


  • New Slogan
    In a press conference at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NEA and AFT leaders announced their commitment to a joint slogan, to be launched with a Post-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the US Department of Education: Do National Standards or die.



— Susan Ohanian