Hanoi parents struggle to find day care for kids as schools close

By Pham Nga, Hai Hien   May 4, 2021 | 11:38 pm PT
Hanoians struggle to find daily care for their children, who have been told to stay at home following the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

Preparing to send his daughter back to his hometown in central Thanh Hoa Province just hours after returning from there, Hung, 38, wished the Hanoi education department had made the decision to close schools sooner. He spent the four-day holiday ending Monday in the province.

Then he could have simply left her there with her grandparents.

"I suspected they would tell students to stay at home, but I still let her travel to Hanoi with us after the holidays. Because it would have been bad if she was unable to take the final exam."

Hung’s daughter’s final exams had been scheduled to begin on May 4.

The Hanoi Department of Education and Training has told two million students from kindergarten to high school levels to stay at home from May 4 amid the growing Covid-19 fears.

Classes would be held online, it said Monday.

Foreign language, computer and other training centers have also been told to close.

A Hanoi student attends online classes. Photo by VnExpress/HaiHien.

A Hanoi student attends online classes. Photo by VnExpress/HaiHien.

The decision came after three people in the capital were found with Covid-19 they had contracted from the outbreak in the northern Ha Nam Province. Besides a large number of people would return to the city after the four-day Reunification Day and Labor Day holidays.

He said: "I had asked my friends if the education authorities would tell students to stay at home, but no one was sure."

Over the last year the university lecturer and his wife have got used to last-minute ordeals caused by the pandemic.

He was right.

When schools are shut, many parents struggle to find day care for their children.

In the capital’s Ha Dong District, Lan Anh, the mother of an 18-month-old girl, faces just this problem.

The child was with Anh’s mother for six months until she could go to kindergarten, and now with the closure she has to do so again.

"She had gotten used to being with me every evening, but now we must live apart again," Anh said with tears in her eyes.

Lan Anhs dạughter (R) is with her grandmother in Anhs hometown while her son goes to his mothers workplace. Photo courtesy of LanAnh.

Lan Anh's dạughter (R) is with her grandmother in Anh's hometown while her son goes to his mother's workplace. Photo courtesy of Lan Anh.

Some of her colleagues take turns with their spouses staying at home and taking care of their children until their relatives can help.

Others bring their children to work and play with others’ kids.

But many people are unable to depend on their relatives since they live in areas that have Covid-19 cases.

Ngoc Huyen of My Dinh District has parents living in Ha Nam Province, the current coronavirus epicenter, and so has no choice but to keep her eight- and four-year-old sons at home.

"I am worried that if I take my children to my hometown, they would be quarantined."

She plans to install three cameras at home to watch over her children while at work.

"We have no idea when the pandemic will end, so I must find a long-term solution instead of temporary ones. The children will be more independent and we will be at ease."

Day-care services have mushroomed to fulfill this need.

Bich Thuy in Cau Giay District decided to hire a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher from 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day for VND200,000 ($8.68).

"When she arrives, I will ask her to show me her ID card. We also have cameras at home, so I am kind of confident."

Minh Anh, a teacher at a private school, has started teaching children in her house.

Within two hours of uploading information about it on Facebook she received nearly 20 calls and decided to ask some of her colleagues to join her.

"We design lessons suitable for each group of students. We ask for daily payment. Some parents complain that VND200,000 a day is too much, but they cannot bargain."

In the latest Covid wave that began last week there have been 38 cases so far in Ha Nam, Hung Yen, and Vinh Phuc provinces and Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.

Hanoi has confirmed four cases, including three people who had been in contact with the Ha Nam man who returned from Japan and tested positive after completing his two-week quarantine.

The capital has closed bars, karaokes, cafes, and dance clubs, theaters, massage parlors, spas, and gyms, and taken food vendors off streets.

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