April 8, 2022
HANOI — The capital of Hà Nội has reason to be confident in its decision to send young children (grades 1 to 6) back to in-person learning despite them being in the unvaccinated age group, a city official said.
Nearly 1 million students in grades 1-5 (primary school) and grade 6 (secondary high school) in 30 districts – both urban and outlying – and townships across the city were allowed back to schools on Wednesday after nearly a year spent almost entirely in online classes, in the latest step in the city’s plan to adapt to the COVID-19.
Students in grades 7 to 12, who are in the 12-17 age range for COVID-19 vaccination, have gradually been allowed back to schools since earlier in the year after the inoculation campaign was completed.
Phạm Xuân Tiến, deputy head of the Hà Nội Department, said that the rate of in-person learning at all three levels of general education was all over 90 per cent – 92 per cent in primary school, 93.2 per cent secondary high, and 96.2 per cent in high school.
“This shows that parents are very willing to let their children go to school, and when I was inspecting the ‘offline classes’ that reopened on Wednesday and had talks with parents, most were glad schools were reopening,” Tiến said.
The official noted that Hà Nội has gone past its outbreak peak, with a daily increase of a fraction of the peak reached in March – and sending students back at that time would have pushed COVID-19 infections even higher due to the large gathering of people in a tight space.
The general survey of parental willingness conducted by schools over the weekend (April 3-4) indicated over 75 per cent of parents agreed with bringing students back to school, Tiến said.
Students from grades 1 to 6 have had only virtual classes since the beginning of the school year (September 2021), while there were only two months left in the school year so letting students back to school now would provide a “golden window” for schools and teachers to ‘consolidate’ and review student knowledge and prepare them for the end of term examinations.
Previously during a meeting on March 28, Secretary of Hà Nội Party Committee Đinh Tiến Dũng said only after young children were vaccinated against COVID-19 would there be peace of mind in reopening schools, with the vaccines helping to cut back on risks of infections and serious disease.
Việt Nam plans to roll out vaccination for children in the 5-11 age range in the second week of April, with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Hà Nội’s health authorities said they are ready to carry out the campaign as soon as the health ministry distributes the vaccines.
Preschools in Hà Nội, making up about 500,000 students in total, are still closed.
Trần Thế Cương, head of Hà Nội’s education department, said in a recent meeting that after the return of 1st-6th grade students, the department would collect opinions from parents on reopening preschools and based on this would submit a reopening roadmap to the municipal People’s Committee for approval.
He noted that since preschools had been closed for quite a long time, there would need to be a serious and thorough assessment of all the conditions and facilities to ensure safety.