HCMC will let ninth and twelfth graders to return to school on March 2 and other school children will follow suit two weeks later, starting March 16, after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
The city's steering committee for coronavirus infection prevention and control held a meeting with various departments and 24 districts on Tuesday to look into the coronavirus situation, reported the local media.
The city has some 1.7 million K-12 students, including nearly 100,000 ninth graders and more than 73,000 twelfth graders, according to Le Hong Son, director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training.
Son stated that the department has asked local schools to take preventative measures against the spread of the disease, known as Covid-19, among teachers, students and their parents and has assigned homework for students and started online classes while schools are closed.
However, the measures are temporary fixes, he noted. The current online teaching model cannot replace classes and cannot extend the time of school closures for 12th graders as the national high school examination is set to be held from July 23 to 26.
He suggested kindergarteners aged five and fifth graders return to school from March 16 and attend morning classes only.
Pre-school and elementary students will have their schedules announced later as the outbreak develops.
Ninth and twelfth graders will return to school on March 2 and only attend one session per day while the remaining secondary school students as well as centers for life skills, foreign languages, information technology and tutoring will resume classes from March 16.
The city’s chairman, Nguyen Thanh Phong, pointed out that the central Government has yet to decide a date for students across the country to get back to school. Once the prime minister makes a decision on the issue, the municipal government will make appropriate changes.
The proposal put forward by the education department serves as a plan for the city to decide on reopening schools, according to Phong.
He said there are more than 2,000 schools across the city, with each having 1,000-2,000 students. If all the students go to school at once, three to four million face masks would be needed, which the city could not afford due to the lack of supplies.
Given the large number of students, schools will be at risk of an epidemic if they are not monitored properly, said Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the HCMC Department of Health.
He added that the health department is working with the education department to take precautionary measures when students return to school.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed at a meeting on Monday that the resumption of classes depends on the development of the epidemic around the world and will be decided at a subsequent Cabinet meeting scheduled for the end of this week.
The current school year will be extended to the end of June, a month later than usual, according to the Ministry of Education and Training.
Primary and junior secondary graduation certification processes must be finished prior to July 15 ahead of the national high school exam. Meanwhile, 10th grade enrolment must be completed before August 15.
School reopening dates not yet finalized: PM
Schools across the country will remain closed as authorities have to consider the development of the coronavirus outbreak before setting their reopening dates, noted the prime minister.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made this announcement at a meeting on February 24 discussing the prevention and control of the spread of the epidemic, officially called Covid-19, reported Thanh Nien newspaper.
Earlier at the meeting, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung and Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha both showed support for a plan allowing high school and college students to resume their studies on March 2, while secondary school students and those in the lower educational stages stay at home for one or two more weeks.
According to Minister Nha, students can return to school if no disease-related issues arise from March 2. However, based on the latest developments in some localities, the closures may extend for another two weeks for secondary school students and lower grades.
As for Minister Dung, the school resumption date should be based on whether Vietnam has brought the disease under control, with no new cases being recorded for days and 15 out of 16 confirmed cases having recovered from the viral contagious disease.
The extended shutdown will affect parents who are struggling to arrange for childcare while they work, especially as private schools have been suspended as well.
The head of the Government Office added that students in the virus-hit Japan and Taiwan are still attending school. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong authorities are now considering the exact day for classes to resume.
Further, the extended school break could arouse the public’s doubts over whether Vietnam has contained the flu-like virus. Dung added that high school students, for instance, could return to school early next month as they now have better awareness of protective measures to avoid infection. This will allow them to prepare for the upcoming national high school graduation exams.
In conclusion, PM Phuc stressed that the final date for school reopenings will be decided later after considering the development of Covid-19. SGT
The month-long closure will affect 13 million students, the government says.
The authorities in HCM City said that it was not safe to reopen schools for nearly two million pupils while the Covid-19 outbreak hasn't ended.