The Hanoi Department of Education and Training is seeking the municipal authorities’ permission to let all students between 7th and 12th grades return to school after the Tet holiday, according to Tran The Cuong, the department’s director.
"The final decision would be taken in accordance with the coronavirus situation and student vaccination rate," Cuong noted.
He added that most residents of Hanoi have been injected with the second. Schools are ready for both face-to-face and online teaching scenarios as well as pandemic prevention plans to ensure students' health at home and at school.
Cuong said his department is developing options to submit to the Hanoi People’s Committee.
9th graders in Tam Dong Secondary School, Me Linh District, Hanoi return to school on Nov 22, 2021. Photo: Khanh Huy
“Hanoi will let students of other grades resume in-person schooling only when safety is ensured. It is expected that after the 2022 Lunar New Year holiday, students from grades 7 to 12 can be back to school in all 30 districts; then the city will consider allowing the lower grades, including preschool and primary schools,” said the education director.
Previously, in late 2021, Hanoi piloted direct teaching with students in grades 9 and 12 in rural areas, noting that face-to-face schooling would be switched to online learning if the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the area (labeled “orange or zones”) become more serious.
Hanoi students had stopped going to school starting May 2021 as the fourth coronavirus wave hit. There are now around 64,000 students out of 2.2 million in the capital studying in school, while the rest remain home.
Tran Thi My Hanh, a 48-year-old mother of an 8th and an 11th grader in Nam Tu Liem District, didn't hesitate to answer “yes” when she was asked if she would let her children return to school after the Tet holiday.
Students at Huy Van Secondary School in Hanoi back to school after the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. Photo: Tran Long
“Many other parents said they no longer fear the coronavirus like before, as the major concern for parents is their children's development. From the beginning of this academic year, students have not been able to meet their classmates and teachers. The children often said that there was no one to play with and parents are worried that their children would not be able to develop their communicative skills,” Hanh told The Hanoi Times.
Sharing Hanh’s view, Nguyen Tien Long, living in Cau Giay District, often encourages his wife to be open to the idea of allowing the kids to return to school.
Long said that knowledge and academic achievements are just an aspect of school education. What worries him is the long-term health and psychological impacts that staying at home too long might cause his 8th-grade son and 10th-grade daughter.
“I often wondered what would happen if my children would be infected with coronavirus when going to school. However, knowing that most children only have mild symptoms, I feel more at ease. The long pandemic may cause the health and mental impacts to my children if they stay at home for more time,” Long said.
A student of Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, Mai Nhat Minh, 16, told The Hanoi Times that the forced distance learning was too long, and he was excited to see his friends again at school.
“I am looking forward to going back to school and meeting my friends. Even though studying online is good too, I feel that studying at school is more efficient,” Minh said.
Nguyen Hai Trang, also 16, shared: “With the current evolution of the pandemic, I still feel a bit nervous when returning to school, but I will be really happy if I can meet my classmates after a long time studying at home.”
In an interview with The Hanoi Times, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training Pham Xuan Tien said that school reopening is a legitimate desire of both parents and teachers although Hanoi has been recording around 3,000 new Covid-19 cases daily.
“Teachers told me they believe that their students, especially in the first, second and sixth grades, would better develop their skills if they were in the school. The first-grade students need time to get used to teachers and schools. Second and sixth-graders who started to learn the new general teaching plan in 2021 need face-to-face instructions from teachers at school,” Tien said.