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Face-to-face schooling resumption urged in the new normal

Face-to-face schooling closure has badly affected students' thought and psychology.

It is time to consider school reopening in a safe manner in line with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s instructions on safe and flexible adaptation to the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son made his statement at a webinar on January 19.

The minister has suggested that localities should reopen schools in the new normal to contribute to economic recovery and social stability.

He pointed out favorable conditions like high vaccination coverage and improvements in the pandemic fight, in terms of treatment drugs, infrastructure, public awareness and experience.

Online learning that has been utilized over the past more than two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic would affect the quality of teaching and learning, children’s psychophysiology as well as socio-economic activities, among others, Son said.

Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son speaks at the webinar on January 19. Photo: Tuan Minh

He requested localities to raise their opinions and views, take action to reopen schools as soon as possible, especially after Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, which lasts from January 31 through February 4.

Earlier, on January 18, the PM asked the Ministry of Education and Training to partner with the Health Ministry to hold a nationwide teleconference collecting comments from experts, scientists, and localities on a detailed roadmap to re-opening schools and educational establishments.

The two ministries are responsible for providing instructions for localities to reopen in-person classes for over 12-year-old learners after the Tet holiday, especially those with high vaccination rates among the group of 12-17 years old.

As of mid-January, 90.1% of students aged 12-17 got the first shot of Covid-19 vaccines, and 72.2% received the second dose. Meanwhile, 82% of teachers and education managers were given the second jab, and 28.2% got the third shot.

The PM also asked the education and health bodies to work together in acquiring the experience of countries and the World Health Organization on vaccination rollout for 5-11-year-old children, so that they can attend in-person classes.

The education ministry was also required to work with the Ministry of Information and Communications and press agencies to raise public awareness and create public consensus on the safe reopening of schools.

In-person classes run in fourteen localities
 

Nearly 20 million Vietnamese students have been forced to suspend going to school and switch to online learning for many months since the emergence of the severe fourth wave of the novel coronavirus hit the country in late April last year.

Students are absent from class due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Pham Mai

According to the Ministry of Education and Training’s statistics, as of January 19, fourteen cities and provinces across Vietnam have been offering in-person classes for students from kindergarten to high school levels.

These localities account for 22.2%. Of the remaining cities and provinces, nineteen have applied full online learning via the internet and television, while thirty others have combined online learning and in-person classes, accounting for 30.2% and 47.6%, respectively.

In an interview with The Hanoi Times, Director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training Tran The Cuong said that he was particularly concerned and understood the difficulties that students and teachers faced during online learning.

"Education disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are preventing children from getting their education off to the best possible start, an estimated 4.4 million Vietnamese preschool children saw their learning interrupted due to the novel coronavirus. Face-to-face schooling closure has badly affected students' thought and psychology," Cuong said.

He stressed that localities must get updates on the Covid-19 pandemic evolution to decide school resumption in accordance with relevant regulations and guidelines of the education and health ministries.

Localities across the country have made adjustments to the teaching model, moving from online to offline and vice versa, depending on the pandemic evolution in each locality, Cuong added.