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‘Hang in there’: Hanoi first graders pen heartfelt letters to peers in COVID-19 epicenter

Friday, February 21, 2020, 12:28 GMT+7
‘Hang in there’: Hanoi first graders pen heartfelt letters to peers in COVID-19 epicenter
A first grade student at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi shows off her drawing to peers in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this provided photo.

Students at an elementary school in Hanoi are melting netizens’ hearts with the letters and drawings they have sent to support the children of Vinh Phuc, the northern Vietnamese province at the heart of the country’s novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.

With the COVID-19 forcing authorities in the Vietnamese capital to keep schools closed until at least the end of February 23, Nguyen Cam Ly, a teacher at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School in Hoan Kiem District, has been struggling with ideas for her six-year-old students to stay occupied at home.

Ly’s ‘eureka moment’ came on Sunday when she thought up the idea to have her students write letters or draw pictures they could send to their peers in Vinh Phuc, the province where 11 of Vietnam’s 16 confirmed COVID-19 patients reside.

Of those 11 patients, more than half are from Son Loi, a commune of 10,600 people which has been sealed off since last Thursday to control the epidemic.

Ly knew her students were aware of the situation in Vinh Phuc, but was completely taken by surprise what her students, just first graders, were able to express through their writing.

A letter from a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan elementary school in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

A letter from a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

“From the news, I learned that you guys lack food, drinks, and school supplies. I love you guys so much. I hope doctors will soon discover a medicine for the disease. Hang in there!” one of her students wrote. 

Another student advised those in Vinh Phuc not “to worry” and “stay healthy” by drinking water, washing hands, and wearing face masks outside. 

“[The novel] coronavirus will surrender,” the handwritten letter proclaims optimistically.

Ly said she was touched by her students’ adorable show of love, character, and humor in the face of adversity.

“I didn’t think the assignment would be taken so seriously by my students. It was only assigned as an optional task during the temporary break,” Ly told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. “I was deeply touched.”

A drawing sent by a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan elementary school in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

A drawing sent by a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

Ly explained that her students are still a long way off from learning how to write essays, but the letters are an important lesson on how emotion can be expressed in writing.

“I’m so glad that this activity has been supported by their parents,” she said. “Thanks to activities like this, these children can begin to develop their writing skills. I was amazed by their creativity.”

But it was not just Ly’s students who learned from the assignment.

“Having been a teacher for 26 years, I’m always looking for new activities or teaching methods so that families can rest assured their children are in good hands,” she said.

A drawing sent by a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan elementary school in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

A drawing sent by a first-grade student at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School in Hanoi to children in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this provided photo.

The novel coronavirus disease, officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week, has killed 2,247 people and infected over 76,700 globally since it first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.

Among them, 14 have been discharged after making a full recovery while another patient, a Vietnamese American hospitalized in Ho Chi Minh City, is expected to be released on Friday afternoon.

The country has recorded no new infection since Thursday last week.

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