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Back-to-school options on the table in Ho Chi Minh City

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 16:58 GMT+7
Back-to-school options on the table in Ho Chi Minh City
Students at a high school in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: N.Hung / Tuoi Tre

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have suggested that students in different grades return to school on different dates in March to minimize the risk of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to a proposal by the municipal Department of Education and Training, five-year-old kindergarteners and fifth-grade students will be back to school from March 16.

The back-to-school dates for younger kindergarteners and elementary school students remain undecided and will depend on how the epidemic develops, according to the proposal.

Ninth-grade and twelfth-grade students will resume their study on March 2, while other middle school and high school students will go to school from March 16.

Learners of local language centers will continue their courses on March 16.

Half-day education will be implemented across all elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools after the reopening.

Colleges and universities managed by the Ministry of Education and Training will be free to decide on their back-to-school dates after March 2.

According Le Hong Son, director of the city’s education and training department, the metropolis currently has about two million students.

If all of them return to school on the same day, it will be a problem for anti-epidemic efforts, Son elaborated.

Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan speaks at a meeting on February 25, 2020. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan speaks at a meeting on February 25, 2020. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday evening, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan considered the proposed back-to-school schedule a necessary approach to reduce the risk of an outbreak.

The treatment and care of COVID-19 patients require the participation of many doctors and nurses.

If the number of infections reaches 1,000 in Ho Chi Minh City, the situation will be difficult to handle due to a shortage of medical staff, Secretary Nhan stated.

The COVID-19 has killed 2,765 people and infected over 81,000 globally since it first hit the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.

All of them have fully recovered and have been discharged from the hospital, with the last patient released on Wednesday morning.

Most provinces and cities in Vietnam previously decided to let students stay home until the end of February as a precaution.

The education ministry recently suggested that local authorities allow students to resume their study at the beginning of March.

If the administration in any locality decides to further extend the school closure, they will have to make sure local students take enough classes to complete their curriculum and wrap up the school year prior to June 30.

The central government has yet to approve any proposal on back-to-school dates, given the COVID-19's complicated developments in China, South Korea, and Japan.

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