HCMC students on first day back at school

By Manh Tung   October 20, 2021 | 03:40 am PT
At 6 a.m. Wednesday, students of Thanh An Primary School in Ho Chi Minh City’s Can Gio District returned to school for the first time in five months.

Many were taken to school on their parents’ motorbikes, while some others cycled. Streets and alleys around Thanh An Commune were more bustling than usual.

Waking up early, Nguyen Thi Phuong Quy, a first-grader at Thanh An Primary School, told her grandmother to help her with preparations. Her uniform was purchased two months ago and has never been used until today.

Thanh An Primary and Secondary-High schools in Can Gio District are the first in HCMC allowed to reopen after the southern metropolis resumed socio-economic activities on Oct. 1 and all Covid-prevention criteria ensured in Can Gio.

Quy (L) walks to her school with her grandmother, Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Quy (L) walks to her school with her grandmother, Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

"I want to go to school, I want to see my friends," Quy said while holding her grandmother’s hand and walking to class.

For more than a month, Quy has stayed home and studied under her teacher’s guidance, since the family has no smartphone for online lessons. Her grandmother, Le Thi Gai, 56, said Quy’s parents have been stranded in southern Dong Nai Province since the beginning of the new school year.

Admitting she has no idea how to teach her granddaughter, Gai was yearning for the school to reopen.

"I am thrilled, when she goes to school, she will be taught how to write, how to count. I do not know what to do if she remains at home."

Quy is among 110 students of four first- and second-grade classes at Thanh An Primary School to resume Wednesday morning. Entering the school, all students are required to have their body temperatures checked and sanitize their hands. Many first graders, going to school for the first time, were bewildered, not remembering their classes and rooms.

In each classroom, students maintain social distancing and wear masks.

Students were greeted by their teachers, with a painting and the words "Chao don cac con" (Welcome our students) on the board of each classroom. When meeting their teachers for the first time, some children were shy even though they had previously met them online.

Students at Thanh An Primary School during a lesson on the morning of Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Students at Thanh An Primary School during a lesson in the morning of Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Teachers spent the first lesson talking with students, telling them to always wear masks and wash their hands properly.

Do Thi Le, headteacher of class 1/2, said she will spend the first week reviewing all the lessons taught online, while teaching her students the alphabet. According to Le, many students do not remember the online lessons.

"I hope the coming school days go smoothly, so my students and I could finish the school year well," Le said.

Meanwhile, teacher Do Tran Thanh Thi of class 1/1 could not hide her joy when meeting her students. The class has 24 children, whose parents work as fishermen and are away from home all day, so they do not have time to support their children with online lessons.

In the last few months, Thi has focused on teaching in the evening so her students could be supported by their parents.

"Because of online learning, levels of children in the class are different. Currently, some learn quickly and are fluent in many letters and numbers, but some others are not, so at first, I will focus on helping them," Thi said.

According to the teacher, in future, learning will be more difficult because it must go with pandemic prevention. But the teacher believes she will overcome challenges because, like many colleagues in Thanh An, it is a joy to see students returning to school.

Leaders of Thanh An Primary School said in addition to organizing transportation to pick up students, they will also go home in different time frames. The school has a Covid-19 safety team with a contingency plan to handle situations related to the pandemic.

Students enter Thanh An Secondary-High School, Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Students enter Thanh An Secondary-High School, Oct. 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Also on Wednesday morning, Thanh An Secondary-High School divided students of grades six to nine and grade 12 to enter through three gates. A total 131 students were expected to return to school, but nine were absent.

Nguyen Bao Ngoc, principal of the school, said in the first week, teachers would help students revise online lessons. They have four classes in the morning and three in the afternoon.

Huynh Truong Giang, a 12th grader, said he woke up at 4 a.m. to prepare meals and books.

"I am very happy to be able to focus on studying, especially since I am in grade 12 and must prepare for the important national exam," Giang said.

Last weekend, HCMC Vice Chairman Duong Anh Duc said Thanh An Commune should have long-term solutions to reopen schools, which must ensure that students and teachers feel comfortable.

The commune has not recorded any new community cases since Sept. 12.

The HCMC Department of Education announced earlier this month that all schools would reopen in January 2022.

The city has around 1.7 million students at over 2,400 schools. More than 1.3 million in primary to high schools are currently studying online.

go to top