More than 150,000 students of grades 9 and 12 of Vietnam’s southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City have come back to their in-person classes on Monday morning after more than six months learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the total, 88,000 students are of grade 9 and over 66,000 others are 12th graders, who will return to their face-to-face classes on a trial basis for two weeks.
The school resumption took place amid the context that the city, as well as the country, has eased strict COVID-19 restriction and restored socio-economic activities based on the strategy of living safely with coronavirus since early October, after basically putting the pandemic under control and achieving high vaccination coverage rates.
|A teacher at Trung Vuong Senior High School in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City is seen guiding students to stand in line for body temperature check upon entering the school. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre
The city had basically completed coronavirus inoculation for children from 12 to 17 years old, with a population of over 702,500, by the end of November, local health authorities reported.
The nine-million people city had also administered over 8.03 million first vaccine doses and some 6.84 million second jabs to its adult population as of December 12, according to the national COVID-19 vaccination portal.
In preparation for the resumption of in-person schooling, all junior and senior high schools in Ho Chi Minh City had completed all necessary steps over the past few days to meet the current rules on epidemic prevention and control.
|This image shows grade 12 students of Trung Vuong Senior High School performing hand disinfection with a sanitizer at the entrance of the school. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre
During the two trial weeks, students will experience 12 to 30 hours of learning per week, depending on actual epidemic developments, according to the guidance of the city’s Department of Education and Training.
After the trial period, a review will be conducted to decide on next steps in sending more students back to schools, the department said.
As noted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, students at Ly Phong Junior High School in District 5 had body temperature measured and performed hand disinfection with automatic equipment upon their arrival at the school.
The school has been equipped with standby quarantine rooms, COVID-19 rapid test supplies and other facilities to serve epidemic prevention.
At the school gate, some teachers were tasked with monitoring students and handling unexpected situations if any.
Nguyen Gia Huy, a ninth grader among the first students to arrive at the school, said: “Today, I am very happy because after a long time studying at home, now I can meet my friends and teachers again. I am very excited. For the first class this morning, we will finish at 8:30 am.”
|Grade 9 students are seen entering Ly Phong Junior High School in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
“The school does not organize day-boarding. It neither opens the canteen nor operates the air-conditioning system. When the class is over, they will be guided to leave their classrooms through two staircases to get out of the school,” Tran Tan Tai, the school’s principal, said.
Nguyen Van Hieu, director of the municipal Department of Education and Training department, and Tang Chi Thuong, director of local Department of Health, were seen present at the school for inspection.
“The school has 366 grade-9 students, who are divided into nine classes, and has two separate standby quarantine rooms for boys and girls. That is good and comfortable,” Hieu said.
|Students at Ly Phong Junior High School are seen performing health declaration when returning to the school on December 13, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
Nearly 80 percent of parents of students of grades 9 and 12 in the city agreed to let their children come back to in-person learning after over six months of online learning due to the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the education and training department.
As of Sunday, the city had documented 487,890 COVID-19 cases and 18,748 deaths since the pandemic erupted in the country in early 2020, the Health Ministry’s data shows.
Students are seen in a classroom at Ly Phong Junior High School on December 13, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
|Nguyen Van Hieu (left), director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training, is seen at Ly Phong Junior High School on December 13, 2021 for inspecting the preparations for receiving students back to the school. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
|This image shows grade 9 students attending the flag-salute ceremony before learning time at Hoang Van Thu Junior High School in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, on December 13, 2021. Photo: Nhu Hung / Tuoi Tre