School officials spray disinfectant in a classroom at Tam Thế Elementary School in the northern province of Bắc Giang. VNA/VNS Photo Đồng Thúy
HÀ NỘI - Students from kindergarten to high school in Hà Nội's public schools will not return to school until after March 8, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Nguyễn Đức Chung has said.
Chung made the announcement at a city-level meeting on prevention of the coronavirus in Hà Nội yesterday.
“Our goal is to avoid human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in the city, but we still have different scenarios to prepare for the worst,” he said.
International schools in the capital are allowed to re-open on March 2 if they have confirmed their schools are safe and parents agree for their children to attend, the chairman added.
“Since international schools’ term dates are closely related to those in foreign countries, we have agreed for them to resume all activities from March 2,” he said.
HCM City was yet to announce a decision on when schools could open again as of 9pm yesterday.
Vĩnh Long Province and Đà Nẵng City will have 12th graders and university students return to school on March 2, and students of all levels return on March 16 and March 8, respectively.
In the central provinces of Nghệ An, Hòa Bình and Hà Tĩnh, high school and secondary school students will return to school after March 1 and 8 respectively, while students at other levels will stay home until after March 15.
In most other provinces, secondary schools and high schools will re-open on March 2, while elementary schools and kindergartens will remain close until after March 8.
‘Can’t sit still’
The localities’ announcements came after the Ministry of Education and Training on Thursday gave out its recommendation on the schools’ reopening dates as parents stayed on high alert over the worsening outbreak of the coronavirus worldwide.
Death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak climbed to 2,858 people worldwide as of Friday afternoon, with more than 83,700 people infected with the coronavirus.
Accordingly, the ministry proposed the People’s Committee of 63 provinces and provincial-level cities to let high school and regular education centres students go back to school on March 2.
As for younger children at kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, the local authorities can consider extending the school closure for another one or two weeks depending on their own circumstances.
“The outbreak is getting very complicated but we can’t sit still waiting till the outbreak is over and let the students go back to school,” education minister Phùng Xuân Nhạ said in a Government’s meeting this week.
The ministry this week had to adjust the school year term for 2019-2020 after schools nationwide were forced to close amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Việt Nam.
The school year will set to end by June 30, with high school enrollment done by August 15. The most important examination of the year – the national high school graduation test of which the results will determine if one can enter a university – will take place between July 23 and July 26, according to the ministry.
The Government and the education ministry was under great pressure for the last week to reopen schools as all 16 patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Việt Nam fully recovered with the last one discharged from the hospital on Tuesday.
No new cases were reported for the last 16 days.
While many Vietnamese parents were protesting the Government’s decision to reopen schools when the coronavirus outbreak was yet to be controlled and instead spreading fast in South Korea, the Middle East and Europe, others were looking forward to sending their kids to schools again.
“I have no problem at all because there are only 6 children in my toddler’s class at a private kindergarten. I want him to go to class again because he is so into iPad while staying at home,” Vũ Hà Mai, a mother of two in Hà Nội told Việt Nam News.
“Students can’t stay at home forever. The outbreak might last for months and how can they are kept at home the whole time?”
Mai, however, showed sympathy with parents who had their children attending public schools.
“It’s indeed more concerning when the kids study in classes of 20 to 30 students,” she said.
Ready for school
The Ministry of Health (MoH) on Friday sent notices to the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the people’s committees of all municipalities asking them to strengthen health precautionary measures at schools and dormitories.
The health authorities were staying on guard as schools were due to open next week with millions of students were returning to class – raising the risk of a potential outbreak in the community.
Parents should constantly check on their children’s temperature and health being at home, the MoH advised. Children should not go to school if they have symptoms of coughing, fever or breathing difficulty and should get a health check at the hospital as soon as possible.
All students, teachers and school staff are not allowed to attend school if they are placed in self-quarantine as per requested by the health authorities, according to the MoH.
The ministry also asked all schools to provide sufficient clean water to their students who would each have their own glasses as well as their own towels.
Schools should also set up washbasins with soap and anti-septic hand rub while air conditioners are completely off-limits. Only fans are allowed in classes with doors and windows are kept open to ensure air circulation.
Crowd events are prohibited for the time being, including daily school gathering session, field trips and extra classes.
The MoH demanded all schools and dormitories be disinfected thoroughly before students return to schools.
Chairman Nguyễn Phú Cường of M.V Lomonoxop school board told Nông thôn Ngày nay (Countryside Today) newspaper that the school was disinfected for four times and all preparations were finished to welcome the students back to class.
“We have hired two more health officers which make us have a total of four people to stand by whenever the students or the teachers show any health problems,” he said. — VNS