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Long time no see: First Vietnamese provinces reopen schools after 3-month COVID-19 break

Monday, April 20, 2020, 15:28 GMT+7
Long time no see: First Vietnamese provinces reopen schools after 3-month COVID-19 break
Ninth-grade students sit two meters apart on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

Middle and high school students in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau and the northern province of Thai Binh have become the first among their peers in Vietnam to return to school after an over-three-month break owing to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Both Ca Mau and Thai Binh are categorized as 'low-risk' localities by the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

As such, social distancing rules in these provinces can be relaxed after April 15 while 28 other provinces and cities in Vietnam have been asked to uphold the measures until at least April 22.

The two provinces have recorded zero COVID-19 infections to date.

Students in Vietnam have been told to stay home since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday in early February as a precaution against COVID-19.

After the over-three-month break, middle and high schools in Ca Mau reopened on Monday morning with their ninth and 12th graders resuming study.

Ninth-grade students sit two meters apart on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

Ninth-grade students sit two meters apart on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

A teacher and ninth-grade students are pictured on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Middle School in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

A teacher and ninth-grade students are pictured on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Middle School in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

The students were all instructed to practice a number of disease prevention measures such as wearing face masks and washing hands before entering the classroom.

As per an instruction by the provincial Department of Education and Training, the number of people in each classroom was reduced to make sure students are seated at least two meters apart from one another to avoid close interaction.

The number of teachers increased proportionally.

All classrooms had been disinfected before the students returned.

Safety precautions such as rearranged parking space are in place to make sure best practices are upheld when parents drop off their students at school or pick them up after school.

Meanwhile, students of other school levels are asked to remain home until further notice.

Ninth-grade students are pictured on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Phan Boi Chau Middle School in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

Ninth-grade students are pictured on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Phan Boi Chau Middle School in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

In Thai Binh, all students from ninth to 12th grades also came back to school on Monday morning, the online news site VnExpress reported.

Classes are divided into half-day sessions, with ninth, 11th, and 12th graders studying in the morning while tenth graders attend school in the afternoon in combination with remote learning at home.

Students are required to have their body temperature checked before entering classrooms and restricted from making contact with students from other classes or taking part in physical and sporting activities.

Schools in Thai Binh had also been cleaned and fumigated as per instructions by the Ministry of Health before students returned.

For other school levels, students are requested to stay home until further notice.

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Thai Binh Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Thai Binh Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

Many other provinces and cities in Vietnam are also in preparation for their students to return to school this month following the long break caused by COVID-19.

The north-central province of Thanh Hoa plans to reopen schools on Tuesday, while the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long is poised to bring students back to school on Monday next week.

Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City has decided to keep all schools and universities closed until the end of May 3.

Hanoi is set for another delay of its back-to-school date by telling all students to stay home through April 22.

The central city of Da Nang has asked local students to stay home until further notice.

A high school student has his body temperature checked on his first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Thai Binh Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

A high school student has his body temperature checked on his first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Thai Binh Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

Vietnam completed 15 days of nationwide increased social distancing on April 15, after which 28 'high-risk' cities and provinces were asked to continue taking social distancing measures for another week until April 22, with a possibility of extending through April 30.

The remaining 35 provinces and cities are deemed 'low-risk.' 

The country has so far confirmed 268 cases of COVID-19, a tally that has stayed unchanged for four days since Thursday.

Only 61 patients remained in treatment on Monday morning, including 60 Vietnamese and one foreigner.

No death related to the respiratory disease has been reported in Vietnam.

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

High school students wash their hands before entering the classroom on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

High school students wash their hands before entering the classroom on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

High school students on their first day at school after a three-month COVID-19 break in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam, April 20, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Hung / Tuoi Tre

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