Hanoi parents keen to send children back to school after Tet

By Thanh Hang, Duong Tam   January 29, 2022 | 12:30 am PT
Hien was very happy when she learned that students in grades seven to 12 in Hanoi will return to school from Feb. 8, and immediately informed her husband.

As previously reported, children in low- and medium-risk Covid-19 areas can attend in-person classes after eight months of studying online.

While Hien’s son, who is in second grade, will continue to study online, her two daughters in grades eight and 12 will head back to school after Tet.

Vietnamese have a nine-day break for Tet, or Lunar New Year starting Jan. 29.

A 12th grader attends in-person class at Viet Duc High School in Hanois Ba Dinh District on Dec. 6, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

A 12th grader in a class at the Viet Duc High School in Hanoi, Dec. 6., 2021 Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

The 42-year-old in Long Bien District is afraid her daughters did not get proper education when schools switched to remote learning due to Covid-19. She also fears her eldest daughter sometimes neglects her lessons at a time when she is about to take the high school graduation and university entrance exams.

Besides the quality of their education, she also worries about their mental health since the teenagers often have mood changes and rarely talk to her.

She wants her children to "quickly return to school" not only to ensure they study normally but also to communicate with friends and teachers.

She is also confident about sending them back to school since they have had two Covid vaccinations.

Hien is among many Hanoian parents to rejoice at the city's decision to reopen middle and high schools after Tet.

Viet An of Hai Ba Trung District is also happy that his daughter in seventh grade is about to return to school after months of being alone at home.

He says: "This is joy for the entire family. We have been looking forward to this day for a long time."

Since the beginning of the school year, An's daughter has had to study online in the morning and afternoon every day of the week.

She has been avoiding going out for fear of contracting Covid and has spent weekends at home playing video games and watching movies.

"My children spend more time on computers than I do. Parents can still socialize at work while children don't have the opportunity to do so," An says.

Recently, when Hanoi relaxed pandemic restrictions, An let his children go to relatives' houses and sometimes to friends' houses, but there too their activities were confined to the house.

He admits that his daughter even gained weight due to low physical movements.

Students stopped attending school at the beginning of May last year after the fourth Covid wave struck.

On November 8 classes resumed for ninth graders in Ba Vi District. Two weeks later ninth graders in 17 other districts and suburban towns in the capital also reopened schools.

Then, on December 6, 12th graders returned to school.

Thus around 64,000 out of 2.2 million students went to school, while the rest remained at home and studied online.

Besides, many families are busy changing plans to support their children as they go back to school.

After the city announced the decision, Ngoc Mai of Cau Giay District discussed with her husband plans to cut short their visit to his hometown in Nghe An Province.

Every year the family stays there until the last day of the Tet holidays.

"We agreed to stay only until Feb. 5 so that our 10th grader son can spend the last two days of the holidays reviewing his school lessons," Mai says.

She also has a daughter in grade six, who will continue to study online.

But she is also worried her daughter has to stay alone at home now that her son will be going back to school.

Her husband, whose workplace is close, will have to run home at noon. The couple has also assigned days for each other to stay at home to look after the daughter.

In online parents’ groups and forums, opinions are divided about whether they should be sending their children back to school after Tet, especially since Hanoi has been recording around 3,000 new daily cases of Covid in the past few weeks.

Hanoi has reported over 123,000 Covid cases since the fourth wave began last April.

Ninth graders students of Ba Vi High School disinfect their hands on their first day heading back to school on Nov. 8, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Ninth graders at Ba Vi High School disinfect their hands on their first day back at school, Nov. 8, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Mai quickly said "yes" when her son's school surveyed her about reopening.

She thinks the decision to send students in grades seven to 12 to school after Tet is reasonable since no one can be sure when the pandemic will end.

"I don't want [children] to spend most of their time in front of a computer screen. They also need to communicate and make friends, which is an important thing for their development. I don't think we should keep children at home forever".

She will also support any decision to send primary school students back to class after assessing local Covid risk levels.

Similarly, though An is worried about the possibility of infection at school, he wants his children to go to school because he thinks the negative effects of children staying at home for an extended period of time is much greater.

He believes schools have proper safety plans in place. Besides, most parents drill into their kids they should comply strictly with Covid prevention measures.

The decision to reopen schools right after Tet has also been made by many other localities’ health and education authorities.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called on cities and provinces last week to let children aged 12 and above get back to school as soon as possible after Tet, especially where vaccination rates for children are high.

Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son said there is enough evidence that opening schools is safe though local leaders and education departments need to be "determined and thoughtful" in preparing for resuming classes for both vaccinated students and preschoolers.

Sending vaccinated students back to school after the Lunar New Year is imperative, he added.

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