One of China’s biggest and most high-profile English language training schools is shutting down all of its physical locations for good in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Disney English’s centers in China have been closed since January because of the outbreak. Since March, they have been offering free online classes as a temporary measure in anticipation of eventually reopening.
However, Mahesh Samat, the executive vice-president of Disney Consumer Products Commercialization for the Asia-Pacific region, has officially closed the door on that possibility, announcing:
Over the past few years, we have noticed a shift in consumer preferences toward online learning experiences and this trend has been accelerated by the global pandemic as families are hesitant to resume in-person supplemental learning classes.
After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to not reopen the centers. We are ensuring that each family of a Disney English learner is refunded accordingly, and we are taking care of each and every one of our affected cast members.
It’s unclear at that this time whether Disney English will survive in China in some kind of online capacity. In an email to employees, the company says that its recruitment team will be reaching out to them to “discuss next steps.”
Email sent to #Disney English CM’s. No official announcement yet, but looks like the company will still exist in an online capacity. Hopefully that means some CMs will keep their jobs pic.twitter.com/t6TEOW5soq
— Disventures by Daniel (@DisventuresbyDM) June 22, 2020
Disney English opened its first location in Shanghai in 2008. Capitalizing on China’s love of Disney and English-language learning, the company had boasted 26 locations across China, including 10 in Shanghai.
Now, all those centers are closed and its free online classes have also ceased. Customers can apply for refunds from June 26 to July 21.