HCMC preschools fail to lure back students after reopening

By Manh Tung   March 9, 2022 | 01:40 am PT
HCMC preschools fail to lure back students after reopening
Teachers take care of children under three at Tuoi Tho No.7 Preschool in District 3, March 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung
While preschools in Ho Chi Minh City resumed in-person classes on March 1, many parents remain wary of lingering Covid threats.

Hoa Mai Preschool, a public school in District 3, started receiving kids aged from 13 to 19 months old on Tuesday after it reopened for those from 19 to 36 months two weeks ago.

Principal Luong Trong Binh said until now, only 50-60 percent of kids under three years old have been registered for in-person classes.

For the rest, their parents are either worried about Covid-19 or have been able to find nannies.

HCMC announced in January to let preschool students back to class from February on an optional basis.

Starting from Mar. 1, all preschools could resume classes for kids under three.

Chuot Tui Thong Minh (smart kangaroo), a private preschool with 30 students from 15 months to five years old in Thu Duc City, had received only two students in the age range of under three as of Tuesday.

"For now, we are still staying open to receive students back. Our greatest concern now is to ensure their safety," said principal Nguyen Thi Ai Vi.

Tuoi Tho (childhood) No.7, a public preschool in District 3, which has classes for children aged from 18 months to five years, has so far received just 200 children, or half of the total students, with most of them over three.

The owner of a private nursery school in District 12 said as not many parents are willing to send their kids under three back, the school has yet to resume classes for small students, worrying it could face losses.

"If we want to reopen classes for small children, we have to hire new employees but in case just a few parents allow their kids to go to school then we cannot earn enough to make up for the input costs," said a school representative.

Like all other preschools across HCMC, the school was also shut down for eight months due to Covid-19 and for that reason, many of its employees had already quit for other jobs, the representative, who wants to stay anonymous, said.

For now, the HCMC Education Department has yet to come up with a preliminary conclusion on reopening schools for children under three.

But Luong Hong Diep, head of the preschool unit under the department, said only 60 percent have the demand to have kids return to schools and in reality, the rate of children under three that have done so is much lower.

HCMC is home to more than 350,000 preschoolers and 3,100 preschools, including both private and public.

The latest Covid-19 outbreak that caused the city to apply social distancing measures for four months last year has since go bust.

The city had recorded more than 44,000 infections in schools of all levels between Feb. 7 and Mar. 3, including 3,600 teachers and staff, according to official data from the Education Department.

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