Many students avoided pools over radiation fears

Many students avoided pools over radiation fears

FUKUSHIMA - About 1 in 20 primary and middle school students in the city of Fukushima refused to swim in outdoor pools during physical education classes this summer due to radiation fears, according to a municipal board of education survey.

Public primary and middle schools in the city resumed swimming classes at outdoor pools this summer. The classes were cancelled last summer after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The board decided to conduct a survey on student participation in swimming classes as some parents voiced concern about radioactive substances in outdoor pools after the board decided to resume the classes.

According to the survey, 698 out of 14,381 primary school students, or 4.9 per cent, did not enter pools due to radiation fears from the end of June, when school pools reopened, to July 20, the last school day before summer vacation.

Of this number, 87 were first-year students, 82 second-year, 100 third-year, 107 fourth-year, 138 fifth-year and 184 sixth-year.

Among middle schoolers, 480 out of 8,003 students, or 6 per cent, did not enter pools for the same reason. Of that number, 90 were first-year students, 259 were second-year and 131 were third-year.

Although radiation levels are higher in the eastern part of the city than in the west, there was no difference across areas in the number of students who did not enter pools.

For primary schoolers, the percentage of students who did not swim in school pools increased in higher grades.

An official at the board's health and physical education division said: "We expected more students not to go swimming. We believe our careful explanations about our thorough decontamination efforts provided a better understanding of safety."

The board decontaminated pools through such measures as spraying high-pressure water and removing the surface of poolside concrete.

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