Back to School in Ukraine Means Heading to Subway Bomb Shelters

(Bloomberg) -- Children in Ukraine’s second-largest city headed back to school by venturing deep underground into subway stations so they can take classes away from the risk of Russian airstrikes.

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About 1,000 elementary school students in Kharkiv, many wearing blue-and-yellow scarves and traditional embroidered shirts known as vyshyvankas shuffled into drywall-enclosed classrooms constructed on the platforms of the city’s central subway station.

There are recess zones, a teacher break room and corridors for pauses between classes, according to pictures posted by city officials on Monday. Children alternate to study in either a morning or afternoon shift in rooms festooned with welcome banners and colorful teaching aids as the hum of arriving and departing trains continues outside.

With a pre-war population of 1.4 million, Kharkiv was briefly entered by Russian forces last year at the start of the invasion and remained nearby until Ukrainian troops retook most of the region in a fall offensive. The city lies just 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Russia’s border and frequently comes under deadly air attacks.

The 17 classrooms spread across five underground stations are designed to give students a chance to meet in person as the city’s regular schools remain closed due to the risk of attack. Of more than 230 schools across the city, 120 have been at least partially destroyed since the start of the war, according to the city council.

--With assistance from Andrew Harrer.

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