Parents are eager to work with school staff in preparation for the return of middle and high school students to on-campus coursework next week, after the government has eased social distancing restrictions given a slowing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection rate.
After a prolonged hiatus since Tet holiday in late January, high and middle schools in Hanoi will welcome students to classes again, starting Monday.
This same date applies to high school and grade-nine students in Ho Chi Minh City.
Since the leaders of Ho Chi Minh City announced school resumption, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha from District 4 has found herself caught in an array of tasks to help her two kids, one in grade nine and one in grade 12, get ready for safe travels back to school.
Ha has equipped each of the kids’ schoolbag with a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer, which in her words “would be easier to use when in need, instead of relying on the public wash basin at school.”
Pham Thi Thuy, a parent from District 6, shares the same sentiment. Despite her kids being fully aware of measures to protect themselves against COVID-19, she cannot help but remind them over and over again of the virus.
“They can recite by heart [the measures to protect themselves] from ensuring nutrition through meals, washing their mouth regularly with saline water, maintaining body temperature, wearing face masks correctly to washing hands correctly and routinely,” Thuy said.
Her kids are also told to avoid going to the school canteen in class breaks for snacks or sharing school supplies with classmates.
On Saturday morning, a majority of high and middle schools in Ho Chi Minh City started logistic work, including disinfection of facilities, before welcoming students back.
According to Hoang Son Hai, principal of Nguyen Chi Thanh High School in Tan Binh District, the school will comply with safety measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread.
“We will temporarily cease air conditioning and resort to open air and electric fans instead,” said Hai.
“There will also be teachers and staff members commissioned to regulate the use of face masks, run temperature checks, and ensure constant handwashing for students before they enter the classroom.”
Another school in Ho Chi Minh City, Tran Dai Nghia High School for the Gifted has reached out to parents with guidelines in place, which state that students must remain at least one meter away from one other while waiting for body temperature checks.
Any students exhibiting signs of a high body temperature, fever, cough or difficulty breathing will get isolated in a waiting room and their parents will be notified.
Parents joins schools in fumigating campuses
Groups of parents were seen on Saturday at Yen Hoa High School in Hanoi with buckets, broomsticks, cloths, and cleaning supplies to assist teachers in cleaning classrooms.
Yen Hoa’s principal Nguyen Thi Nhiep said the classroom facilities are covered in molds after months of not being used.
“In the latest teacher board meeting, we talked about calling for assistance from parents [to clean the classrooms]. We did not expect that many parents to show up,” Nhiep said.
According to Nguyen Quoc Thang, whose child attends class 12A2 of the school, he chose to aid the school in cleaning as a way to show his involvement as a parent with the teacher’s work to educate his child.
“The school is well equipped with hand sanitizer, soap, and body temperature meters,” Thang said.
“We can thus send our children to school with certain ease when the epidemic has not been totally defeated.”
At Nguyen Tat Thanh Middle and High School, the parents’ association has its own agenda to protect the students on top of what has been implemented by the school itself.
“The parents’ association has decided to purchase more face masks with our own budget as spare ones for the children. Some parents have donated hand sanitizer, body temperature meters, and bottled water,” one parent divulged.
“We will give the school our full support to navigate our children amid this tough time.”
Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention mandate has put K-12 schools on hold since January.
All 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam have announced plans to get students back to school, with most universities, colleges, high schools, and middle schools being the firsts to reopen, while pre-schools and elementary schools will follow suit later in May.
Vietnam eased social distancing rules from April 23, but people are still required to wear face masks and avoid any gathering of more than 30 people in public places.
The Southeast Asian country has reported 271 patients to date, with 217 having recovered and no death.
It has recorded only three new cases, all imported, since April 17.