Around 40,000 twelfth graders in Hanoi resume offline learning today [December 6] after seven months of online schooling due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts.
The Hanoi Department of Education and Training yesterday decided to allow twelfth graders to go back to school instead of all high school grades (students of tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade) as planned as the city has recorded hundreds of new Covid-19 infections every day in recent days, making returning to school risky for students.
Accordingly, only twelfth-grade students have joined ninth-graders in Hanoi’s 18 low-risk suburban districts and towns who returned to schools on November 9 and 22.
Students of Viet Duc High School in Hanoi's in Hoan Kiem District on the first day of returning to school. Photo: Ngoc Tu
Schools are requested to enforce pandemic prevention and control measures in line with guidelines given by the municipal Departments of Health and Education and Training.
Students will only attend face-to-face schooling for half a day. School canteens will remain closed. All students are also advised to bring their own water to school.
School management boards must arrange teachers who have been fully vaccinated for in-person lessons while letting the remaining teachers take charge of online classes only.
Schools with students living in high-risk areas should consider combining both offline and online learning modes.
All elementary and middle school students from first to eighth grades still stick to online classes while kindergartners remain at home.
The above-mentioned decision was made after many schools conducted a survey on parents of tenth and eleventh graders via message polls, which found more than 80% of respondents did not want their children to go to school at this time.
Many parents wanted their children to receive the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible so that they could go back to school safely.
Le Thi Ngoc Mai, a parent with a tenth-grade student at Doan Thi Diem School in Nam Tu Liem District of Hanoi said that her son is already fully vaccinated. However, given the current pandemic situation, it’s too early for him to go back to school, she said.
The first lesson of 12th graders in Viet Duc High School. They all wear face masks to prevent the Covid-19. Photo: Ngoc Tu
“More than anyone else, I look forward to having my children return to their school, but the city's decision to reopen offline classes worries me. The number of Covid-19 cases in Hanoi has risen to hundreds each day. I am concerned about the mental health impacts if my son gets infected or if his classmate is a coronavirus positive. I do not feel secure about sending my son back to school at this time," Mai told The Hanoi Times.
"Now students have become used to online learning and exams, delaying in-person lessons for a few days would not affect the quality of learning. Children cannot adhere to Covid-19 prevention measures as strictly as adults, especially wearing face masks all-time at the schools," Mai added.
Nguyen The Hung, principal of Nguyen Trai High School in Ba Dinh District said that his students will receive the second Covid-19 vaccine dose on December 21.
“Therefore, we want to maintain online lessons until the end of December. This decision is supported by a large number of parents. When the students would return to school has to be decided based on the peace of mind of their families and their own safety,” Hung added.
“The school assessed that online and learning are being done well at this point, and the preparation for online final tests has also been completed. Therefore, the school wants parents to encourage their children to take the tests online,” the principal noted.
For 12th graders coming back to schools today, Nguyen Quang Tung, principal of the Hanoi-based Lomonosov Education System, said that his school has tried its best to complete all tasks before welcoming students such as disinfecting the premises, preparing facilities and medical equipment.
“On December 6 morning, only half of the 12th graders went to school. Over 97% of my students have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The school has detailed scenarios to have an appropriate solution to ensure the students' safety. Fortunately, all the school's preparations are going quite smoothly,” Tung told The Hanoi Times.
Inspecting Viet Duc High School and Tran Phu High School in Hoan Kiem District, Director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training Tran The Cuong said that this is an important time for 12th-grade students. Photo: Ngoc Tu
According to the Director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training Tran The Cuong, arranging for 12th graders to resume face-to-face schooling in the rotation will help reduce the time for students gathering at school while preventing learning loss so that students could be ready for the upcoming high school graduation exam.
“The Steering Committees on Covid-19 Prevention and Control at district, ward, and town levels will consider the adjustments and suspension of direct learning if necessary. Results of the scheme will be reported to the city People’s Committee to serve as the foundation for the design of a future roadmap to get students back to school in a safe manner. A flexible combination of online and direct learning will also be an option based on the pandemic evolution at each locality,” Cuong told The Hanoi Times.
Authorities in Hanoi have required all students to stay home and switch to remote learning since May 4 amid a serious Covid-19 outbreak.
Since November 23, Hanoi has conducted vaccination against Covid-19 for children aged 12 to 17, mostly high school students. Until now, first dose coverage has crossed 90%.
Local authorities plan to vaccinate over 95% of local children aged 12 to 17 from the remaining months of this year to the end of the first quarter of 2022, with those from 16 to 17 years old getting the shots first. As planned, students will receive the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on December 14 and 15.
As of December 5, Hanoi has documented more than 12,600 Covid-19 infections since the fourth virus wave hit Vietnam on April 27.