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Secondary students learn to cope with quarantine summer

By Binh Minh   May 20, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
Unable to enjoy the traditional summer break, students from northern Bac Giang Province have learned life skills while in centralized quarantine.

After hearing from his father on the morning of May 13 that he was about to enter centralized quarantine, Duc Thai eagerly packed his clothes, face masks, drinking water and some snacks in a suitcase.

Once finished, Thai said goodbye to everyone in his family, dragged the suitcase to the motorbike for his father to take him to the camp. After a few days of isolation at home, Thai was able to meet his teachers and classmates of 6A2 class, Dinh Ke Secondary School in the province.

"I was very excited when thinking about the next three weeks of eating and living with close friends," the boy said.

Thai is in the same class with a friend whose sister is a source of transmission (F0), who works in Van Trung industrial zone of the province’s Viet Yen District. On May 9, the boy went to school to take his second semester exam in Math, Vietnamese and English.

After the exam, the whole class and teachers had to stay back and were tested for the novel coronavirus, before isolating themselves at home that afternoon.

A few days later, a second test result showed one of his classmates had contracted the coronavirus, causing Thai and 39 classmates to be deemed first generation infections (F1).
Students in class 6A2 of Dinh Ke Secondary School undergo 21-day quarantine at Dinh Ke Primary School, Bac Giang Province. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Students in class 6A2 of Dinh Ke Secondary School undergo 21-day quarantine at Dinh Ke Primary School, Bac Giang Province. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

After being tested for the second time, 40 students in class 6A2 and some others were taken to the isolation area, which is nearby Dinh Ke Primary School since it is a spacious campus. Many people have brought in food, drinks and reading materials like books, newspapers and comics to entertain the children.

Male teachers were assigned to live with male students, while female teachers manage female students. The school also assigned a teacher in charge of supervising isolation rooms and a general manager. Five to six students are placed in one room and sleep on tables that are later transformed into beds.

The rooms have fans, televisions and open windows. Medical workers will go to each room to check temperatures and ask after each child's symptoms in the morning. Every day, the teacher updates details regarding eating, sleeping and exercise time in the general group chat for parents.

Parents are only allowed to call their children twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, so that the children have time to rest. Every day, Nguyen Dung, 38, Thai's father, calls 1-2 times to remind his son to eat and sleep on time, to wear face masks, to disinfect his hands constantly and to keep a safe social distance.

On the first day of receiving the phone call from his father, Thai passionately talked about his new life and things he had done that day. He was taught by teachers to wash clothes and other life skills. He also enjoys being guided by the soldiers to hang up sleeping mosquito nets and to fold blankets neatly.

On the second day, however, Thai was sad as he answered his father's phone call. He had realized that being quarantined away from home was not going to the fun experience that he thought it would be. At home, Thai could watch many interesting programs or play video games on the computer. At a centralized quarantine camp, he has nothing to do but watch time go by and keep a safe distance from others.

A screen shot from a security camera showing students keeping a safe distance during quarantine.

A screenshot from a security camera showing students keeping a safe distance during quarantine.

Hong Mai, a 40-year-old mother who also has a child in quarantine, said she cried the entire time as she drove her daughter to school since she had never been away from her child for so long.

On the first day of visiting the camp, the child was given basins and hangers, taught to wash clothes and neatly arrange utensils after use. Every day, she texts her mother with updates on her life in quarantine. During phone calls, the daughter bragged to her mother about delicious meals and snacks she ate that day, sharing how she got up on time in the morning, went down to the school’s yard to exercise, queued up to get her food, learned how to sort trash and took out the trash by herself. When she was in the classroom, the daughter watched TV or read books and comics sent in by benefactors.

"Since she wasn’t used to the new lifestyle, she was a bit sleepy when getting up early in the morning. After realizing she needed to be faster so others wouldn't have to wait, she learned to get out of bed earlier," Mai said, adding that three weeks of summer quarantine is not what she desired for her kid, but it is also an opportunity for her daughter to practice being independent.

Nguyen Van Tho, principal of Dinh Ke Secondary School, said all students of grade 6A2 and 17 teachers began their isolation in a centralized camp starting May 13. At first, they were a bit surprised, but now they are familiar with the new lifestyle and obey the rules.

The latest Covid wave has caused 1,722 infections in 30 cities and provinces, including 644 community transmissions in Bac Giang.

The province has decided to shut down four industrial parks until further notice and isolated four out of its 10 districts. The number of people living in the latter comprises 850,000, or nearly half the provincial population.

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