While Vietnamese schoolchildren are idling their tedious summer days away confined in their homes as the country battles a new wave of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks, their parents are juggling paid employment, homeschooling, and giving the kids a rewarding summer break.
The latest surge of the pandemic, which started in late July, has put the brakes on most parents’ plans to reward their school-age children with an enjoyable summer vacation, following a ‘turbulent’ semester of online and in-person learning.
Normal summer plans range from visits to see grandparents, excursions to rural areas to become one with nature, selecting from tempting treats at the beaches, weekend getaways to sumptuous meals at gourmet restaurants.
Lam Binh, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reader, said that as more new infections and fatalities were reported in the news and several of her neighbors have been self-quarantining following their trips to Da Nang, streets in her residential area have turned eerily quiet.
The streets and playgrounds are empty of children’s laughter or the sounds of football and basketball games since anxious parents desperately try to keep their children safe behind closed doors.
Binh shared how her eight-year-old son was throwing tantrums, unable to see his friends as their families are isolating themselves after getting back from Da Nang, where the first case of the current outbreak was detected on July 25.
The young boy was also upset at the last-minute cancelation of a promised family trip to his grandparents’ home in a northern locality over travel restrictions and social distancing orders.
To her dismay, Binh also received notices from the boy’s school suspending summer extracurricular activities and a similar discontinuation of his English, martial arts, and musical lessons.
Unable to take regular absences from work, she has no choice but to leave her son at home without adult supervision and briefly checks on him from time to time.
With limited recreation choices including reading comics and playing with Legos, she reluctantly permitted her young son to watch television and access the Internet without parental control on an iPad for prolonged periods of time.
Binh soon found herself in another struggle to take her son’s mind off the digital devices.
She turned to her sister who works from home while tending to her own three kids. Binh sent her son to her sister’s home, but the kids ended up in squabbles and fights only days later.
The desperate mother then formed a group of friends who live nearby and have a safe travel history. They take turns to keep a close watch on the kids and keep them entertained during the day.
Tutoring classes in English, drumming, and painting are also held at their homes with a large space.
Binh makes it a point that she and her son do physical exercise together for at least two hours a day, by swimming in the sea and jogging to boost their immune systems and keep their spirit up during this tough time.
Some also suggest working parents spend more quality time with their stay-at-home kids and indulge them in story readings and games when they do have time.
With the worst of the pandemic yet to come and two more weeks of the summer left, parents should try their best to weather this storm and safeguard their children’s learning and development at this critical point.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Vietnam has recorded 989 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.