Tens of millions of students back to school after long COVID-19 break

May 04, 2020 - 15:22

Tens of millions of students from kindergartens to high schools nationwide returned to school on Monday morning after a three-month closure to prevent COVID-19 transmission.


Students of Việt Đức Senior High School in Hà Nội were back to school on Monday. VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI — Tens of millions of students from kindergartens to high schools nationwide returned to school on Monday morning after a three-month closure to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Among the 63 provinces and centrally-run cities in the country, 18 reopened all schools on Monday, and more than 30 others that welcomed students between sixth and 12th grades back since late April now have reopened kindergartens and primary schools.
Meanwhile, more than 10 localities, including Hà Nội and HCM City, will reopen primary schools and kindergartens later.
In HCM City, more than 150,000 ninth and 12th graders returned to school for the first time since the Tết (Lunar New Year) holidays.
Most local schools made use of the National Reunification Day and May Day holidays from April 30 to May 3 to disinfect classrooms and their campuses, prepare face masks for students, and install more hand wash basins. Many schools rearranged desks while others had to consider dividing classes into smaller ones to ensure the safe distance of one metre among students.
In Hà Nội, about 700,000 junior and senior high schools and establishments of continuing education were reopened on Monday.

Student of Việt Đức High School, Nguyễn Trọng Nghĩa, 16, talked to Việt Nam News that the enforced break was too long, and he was excited not only to be back in school, but also to see his friends again.

“After a long break, I feel really excited to go back to school and meet my friends,” he said. “I also can study directly with teachers, and don’t need to learn online. Even though studying online is good too, but I feel that studying at school is more efficient.”

Nguyễn Thùy Dương, also 16, said: “With the pandemic being controlled, I feel really happy and nervous when I can go back to school and meet my classmates after a long break, but I am still worry and cautious, and protect myself.”

Special measures have been put in place at the school to ensure student safety is paramount.

“The school has divided our class into two to reduce the number of pupils in one classroom, distanced the desks to avoid too much contacts between pupils,” Dương added.

“We get body temperature measurement twice a day, the first time is at the school’s gate and the second is in the class. This helps record our conditions and the school also encourages us to often wash our hands. We are also not allowed to eat or buy food from the street.

“I still like to have a day off from school, but it is impossible because we have been absent from school for too long, it will affect our study and life.”

Despite the three-month break, homeroom teacher Đỗ Thanh Thúy said the students’ transition from school to class was smooth.

She said: “I feel that students are all excited when they return to school. Of course, students really want to talk and share things with their friends after a long time studying at home, but they all follow the school’s distancing regulations.

“The school is also very proactive when reopening again, students’ programme is not interrupted because students have learned and reviewed lessons a lot through the online teaching programme.

“There was nothing difficult in the first day coming back to school. I had four classes since the beginning, and found that students got on very well.”

Lê Hoàng Hiếu, a student from Dịch Vọng Junior High School in Cầu Giấy District said: “I am very happy to see my teachers and friends again.”

“I will seriously follow the school’s and my class’ regulations to ensure safety for me and my friends,” he said.

Aside from disinfection, a number of schools also changed the timetables of classes and continued with teaching online and on television.
However, many schools that have reopened since late April said they are facing difficulties in keeping the minimum distance of one metre among students due to the shortage of teachers and classrooms.
The Ministry of Education and Training recently issued 15 criteria for ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control at educational establishments. Any schools that are unable to meet more than seven criteria will be assessed as unsafe and not allowed to operate.

Head of Hà Nội’s Hà Đông District’s Education and Training Office Phạm Thị Lệ Hàng said all 22 junior and senior high schools in the district ensured safe distance for students by dividing students of each class into two groups. Classes are also organised at different times to ensure too many students are not at school at the same time. The first class starts at 7.30am and other classes will start 30 minutes later.

Over the last three months, schools across Việt Nam have provided teaching online and on television.
More than 22 million students nationwide had just finished the 20th week of the 2019-2020 academic year when schools had to close down almost immediately after the Lunar New Year holiday due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school year was rescheduled to finish before July 15, one and a half months later than usual. — VNS