KHARKIV, UKRAINE, May 8 — There are plans to build three to four more underground schools in Kharkiv before the school term starts in September, said Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov. One such school can accommodate 450 students in one shift.

Also, the mayor of Kharkiv noted that in addition to underground schools, they plan to build underground medical facilities. Currently, the city administration is waiting for a subvention from the state for special shelters in medical institutions.

On April 2, Ihor Terekhov announced that the construction of the first underground school had been completed in the city. It has 20 classrooms and can accommodate 900 students studying in two shifts. 

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Russian troops have attacked the Kharkiv region that borders the Russian Belgorod Oblast multiple times per day. They’ve intensified the shelling since March 2024, targeting both civilian and critical infrastructure in the region, exploiting the lack of air defense systems and missiles in Ukraine caused by the delays in US military assistance.

Terekhov said, the classroom desks in the underground school can adjust to students’ heights, so children of different ages will be able to use them. The kitchen staff will be preparing meals for students in the neighboring school’s kitchen and then deliver them to the underground school. Students will be eating in turns in the dining room during breaks.

The construction of another two underground schools in Liubotyn and Korotych in Kharkiv region is underway.

On April 30, Artūras Žarnovskis, the head of the Lithuanian program “Co-create Future of Ukraine”, announced that Lithuania plans to build an underground school in the Kharkiv Oblast by the end of this year as part of its assistance to Ukraine’s recovery. Lithuania will also build underground schools in the Mykolaiv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Chernihiv regions.

Žarnovskis emphasized the importance of projects like that, e.g., for child socialization. According to him, due to the full-scale Russian invasion and previous COVID-19 restrictions, in some Ukrainian regions, “there are fourth-graders who have not been to school at all” and only had online classes.

As reported by Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Andrii Stashkiv at a briefing at Ukraine—Ukrinform Media Center, Russian aggression has destroyed more than 200 schools in the country and damaged 1,600.

Every seventh school in Ukraine has been damaged, leading to a lack of access to education. About 900,000 children can’t attend school and are studying using remote technologies.

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