Authorities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City remain hesitant about when to reopen schools after weeks-long closures due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic, as the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training has asked that schools of all levels welcome back students next month.
The ministry on Thursday sent a document to the administrations of all 63 provinces and cities, asking them to reopen high schools on Monday next week, which falls on March 2.
Meanwhile, kindergarteners and students of elementary and middle schools will resume study from either March 9 or March 16, depending on each locality's preference.
The 2019-20 school year must end by June 30, about one month later than previous years, regardless of which of the three dates schools are reopened.
The annual national high school examination, which serves both as a qualification for high school graduation and a requirement for university entrance, will take place from July 23 to 26.
Following the education ministry’s guidance, at least 15 out of 63 Vietnamese provinces and cities have announced their back-to-school dates, as of Friday afternoon.
Most provinces and cities have followed the ministry’s instructions, announcing that high school students would be back to school on Monday next week while asking students of the remaining school levels to stay home through March 8.
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, sitting on the fence, have asked students’ parents to vote on the back-to-school date.
The municipal Department of Education and Training sent a survey form with three options, March 2, March 16, and the beginning of April, to the parents on Friday morning.
Schools were tasked with collecting their opinions and report the result to the education department before 2:00 pm on the same day.
The education department will then make the final decision using the survey result as reference.
The Hanoi Department of Education and Training on Thursday evening also requested all local schools to pool parents' opinions about whether or not to send their children back to school on March 2.
The COVID-19, which first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has infected over 83,500 people and killed 2,858 globally as of Thursday, according to the South China Morning Post.
South Korea has confirmed 13 deaths from 2,337 positive cases so far, becoming the biggest cluster of infections outside China.
To date, Vietnam has reported 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.
All of them have fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
The country has recorded no new infection since February 13.
Most provinces and cities in Vietnam previously decided to let students stay home until the end of February to prevent the viral infection.