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Coronavirus forces Japan schools to grapple with online education

With 16 million children stuck at home, classrooms are scrambling to digitize

A girl studies at an elementary school in Aichi Prefecture on March 2 as schools in Japan close down due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Koji Uema)

TOKYO -- School is out for more than 16 million children in Japan this month. And while the youngsters may be celebrating, the unscheduled closure of primary and secondary schools across the country due to the new coronavirus outbreak is a headache for parents and educators alike.

The unprecedented disruption has set off a move toward online teaching that may accelerate a shift away from the traditional textbook-based classroom that has been the hallmark of Japanese education since at least the 19th century.

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