Tens of thousands of students who escaped the devastating quake are facing additional pressure, with the once-in-a-lifetime national college entrance exam due to start next month. More schools were reopened yesterday, nine days after the quake devastated Sichuan province . More than 22,000 final-year high school students from Dujiangyan , Mianzhu and Shifang have been transferred to schools in nearby cities to prepare for the annual exam, scheduled for two weeks' time. Although the Ministry of Education promised to postpone the exam in worst-hit areas across Sichuan, many students said the quake would still affect their performance. Liu Yachun, head teacher of the collapsed Beichuan High School where 1,800 students were buried by the quake, said it was impossible to erase the sorrow brought by the disaster. 'Students need to face a cruel fact on their first day of school - their classmates and teachers were claimed by the disaster,' he said. Fewer than 600 of the 3,000 students at Beichuan High School returned to their classrooms yesterday. In Chengdu , smiles have been rare among the 3,900 final-year high school students transferred from Dujiangyan, with many saying they hoped they would stay there for only a short time. Pu Chengyu, a 19-year-old Dujiangyan student, said she needed time to calm down before she could concentrate on test preparation. The China programme of Save the Children UK said the earthquake, which occurred when many children were at school, could potentially have dire long-term effects on their educational performance as they no longer associated school with a safe place. But Zhong Hang, a director for the organisation, applauded the authorities' efforts to create a sense of normality for schoolchildren sheltering in relief camps. While many members of the public praised efforts to help students return to some semblance of a routine, some mainland media said this was a thoughtless decision. 'Students should return to schools only after they are able to release what they have suffered in the disaster. They need mental health counsellors rather than rote learning after a heartbreaking experience,' the Oriental Morning Post said. It urged authorities to defer the reopening of schools until students had recovered from mental trauma, and to conduct a thorough inspection of school buildings to ensure students' safety. Li Chengyun, deputy governor of Sichuan, promised full scholarships to quake orphans who enrolled at universities or vocational schools.