Let children return to school, Hanoi parents plead

By Thanh Hang, Duong Tam   January 15, 2022 | 04:54 pm PT
Let children return to school, Hanoi parents plead
12th graders study in a classroom at the Lomonosov Middle and High School in Hanoi, December 2021. Photo courtesy of the Lomonosov Middle and High School
Dieu Linh, 42, didn't hesitate to answer "yes" when asked if she would let her children return to school after the Tet holiday.

Hanoi has been recording around 3,000 new Covid-19 cases daily. But many parents like Linh said they no longer fear the coronavirus like before.

Tran The Cuong, director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training, said the department would propose to city authorities to let all students between 7th and 12th grades return to school across the city. The proposal would be considered in accordance with the coronavirus situation and student vaccinate rate, he added.

Linh agrees to the idea. Linh, who lives in Long Bien District and mother of a 7th and a 10th grader, said that even while the kids don't go to school, they still go out with their families frequently anyway. As such, their infection risks would not be that much different whether they go to school or not.

One major concern for Linh is her children's development. Ever since her 10th grader kid managed to get into Nguyen Gia Thieu High School, they have not been able to meet their new classmates and teachers. Her child would often tell her there was "nothing to do" and "no one to play with." The same goes for her 7th grader, who now only sits in a corner all day reading books.

"My job takes a lot of time, so I only get to take them out to play at the weekends, and sometimes weekday nights. I'm worried about not being able to fulfill all their communication needs," she said.

Sharing Linh's opinion, Hoang Son, 40, often encourages his wife to be open to the idea of the kids going back to school.

Son, who lives in Dong Da District, believes knowledge and academic achievements are just an aspect of school education. What worries him is the long-term health and psychological impacts that staying at home too long might cause his 8th-grade daughter.

After eight months of studying online, Son's daughter began to develop myopia, and her eyes constantly watered after long periods in front of the screen. As both parents are still working, their daughter often must stay home alone all day. After seeing their daughter beginning to talk less and less, Son and his wife decided to go home and share lunches with their child every day.

Son said he often wondered what would happen if his daughter went to school and contracted Covid-19. But knowing that most children only have mild symptoms, he feels more reassured. The possibility of long Covid however concerns him.

"While I don't know if my child would be infected with Covid-19, what's certain is the health and mental impacts she's suffering. In the long run, I don't know which could be worse."

Hanoi students had stopped going to school starting May 2021 as the fourth coronavirus wave hit. Starting November, students of certain grades began to return to school in certain areas. There are now around 64,000 students out of 2.2 million in the capital studying in school, while the rest remain home.

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