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As Ho Chi Minh City daycare centers shuttered by COVID-19, babysitting services are in demand



Parents in Ho Chi Minh City are scrambling to find a nanny for their children after their kindergartens were closed due to COVID-19, which in turn drove hourly rates for the service to spike.

Communities of Vietnamese parents on Facebook are clamoring with job postings and advertisements on babysitting service, as both demand from parents and supply from preschool teachers are soaring during the current wave of COVID-19 infections in Vietnam.

High rate

Being mother to a four-year-old child who attends kindergarten in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Huong Ngoc said working parents in the city are struggling to get their childcare responsibility covered during the outbreak.

“After several discussions, we decided to look for a babysitter on a dedicated job matching group on Facebook,” Ngoc recalled.

One candidate sent us a private message, quoting VND450,000 (US$20) for 10 hours of childcare – a lunch break included.

The price was high as Ngoc saw it, but she accepted the quotation anyway.

“It would be great If the babysitter can teach coloring or singing, but I don’t expect too much,” she said.

Ngoc cannot really be sure of the babysitter’s itinerary either, so she has no choice but to believe the woman’s claim of “not travelling far from home” and entrust the child to her.

Likewise, Tieu Quyen from Ho Chi Minh City also have to settle for a high babysitting rate as her mother is too busy to take care of her three-year-old child, while the private kindergarten she sends her kid to is closed.

Quyen compared the rate in many Facebook groups and found the lowest quotation at VND350,000 ($15) per day, which will increase to VND400,000 ($17) per day later.

“I’m worried about transmission risks [from the babysitters.] Yet the best I can do is reminding the nannies to wear face masks and wash their hands before entering the house.”

Trustworthiness is key

While public kindergarten teachers have a stable base salary to fall back on during school closure, teachers at private preschools have to look for for seasonal babysitting jobs as their incomes are slashed, said Do Hoang Phuong Thao, a teacher at Be Ngoan Kindergarten in District 1, Ho Chi Minh.

“Private school teachers have to take unpaid leave, which is why they are picking up part-time babysitting jobs,” Thao said.

“They offer what parents need.”

Nguyen Thi Kim Uyen, deputy head of the bureau of education and training in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10, shares the sentiment.

“This is a completely fair situation regarding the needs of parents and teachers,” Uyen said.

“Since the teacher is only babysitting, not teaching, we did not issue any official direction but a general guidance for COVID-19 prevention and medical declaration.”

Meanwhile, parents are recommended to discuss travel history with babysitters before hiring, or check out the candidates’ details at local health facilities if needed.

Others casts doubt on the rise of babysitting services, saying it might hinder the effort of COVID-19 prevention and control.

“Unregulated babysitting brings up many obstacles for epidemic prevention, as teachers have no grasp of the host family’s travel history, and vice versa,” Uyen said.

“Families should prioritize relatives and acquaintances for safety.”

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Ho Chi Minh City students to resume school in early March



All students in Ho Chi Minh City have been allowed to go back to school in early March as the COVID-19 pandemic has been put under control again in the southern metropolis.

The municipal People’s Committee on Wednesday issued a document stating that students and learners of local schools, universities, and other educational institutions will resume their normal classes on March 1.

The city’s Department of Education and Training and Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs will provide local schools with guidance on pandemic prevention and control measures.

Students who have been to virus-hit areas will be required to fill out health declaration forms.

Stern penalties will be imposed upon those failing to declare their health status or violating rules on COVID-19 prevention and control.

All students, teachers, and other staff members will have to complete online health declaration on a daily basis.

Following the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February, all students were required to switch to remote learning until the end of the month due to the complicated COVID-19 developments.

The city recorded 36 community-based COVID-19 cases between February 6 and 11.

A total of 35 locations in 10 districts and Thu Duc City were sealed off to prevent the disease from spreading further into the community.

As of Tuesday afternoon, lockdown had been lifted from all of these locations.

The municipal Department of Education and Training on the same day proposed that all students be allowed to return to school on March 1.

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Many schools in Vietnam to resume classroom learning earlier than planned



Several localities in Vietnam have changed their plans to allow students to return to schools after the Lunar New Year holiday about a week earlier than the original schedule.

K-12 and college students in the south-central provinces of Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan and the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap will go to school and take face-to-face lessons from February 22.

On the same date, ninth and 12th grade students in northern Thai Binh Province will also return to school, while students of other grades will continue online study until further notice.

In the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, the provincial Department of Education and Training on Friday said that offline classrooms will be organized for students who do not have access to online study from February 22.

Resuming in-person schooling way more earlier, all students in northern Nam Dinh Province and students of vocational schools in Dong Thap have come back to school since February 17.

Meanwhile, authorities in northern Bac Ninh Province and southern Binh Phuoc Province on Friday issued a notification requesting students to not return to school through February 28. Before that, these two provinces had planned to keep school closed until Sunday, February 21.

Elsewhere in such big cities as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, students will study online until the end of this month.

Before the Lunar New Year holiday, which started around the end of January for most of students across Vietnam, students were slated to stay home until at least the end of this month or further notice from educational authorities to help curb the new coronavirus wave that has hit 13 Vietnamese localities since January 27.

Schools have to ensure COVID-19 prevention and control measures after their resumption.

Facing different school-reopening schedules in localities, the Ministry of Education and Training has planned to build corresponding timetables for the current 2020-21 school year based on the experience from the previous school year, according to director of the ministry’s secondary education department Nguyen Xuan Thanh.

“If the outbreak lingers until March and all students still cannot return to school, the department will delay the end of the school year,” said Thanh.

“The schedule for the [2021] national high school graduation exam and the entrance exams at other levels will also have to be adjusted, with the former may be held in separate times as in 2020, if any localities are still unable to suppress the virus outbreak,” he added.

Schooling in Vietnam has experienced interruptions between offline and online modes since January last year when COVID-19 first hit the country.

The latest wave of infections since January 27 has seen a total of 770 locally-transmitted cases logged in 13 provinces and cities.

Among them, 590 patients have been reported in Hai Duong Province, 60 in Quang Ninh Province, 27 in Gia Lai Province, 35 in Hanoi, five in Bac Ninh Province, two in Bac Giang Province, 36 in Ho Chi Minh City, two in Hoa Binh Province, one in Ha Giang Province, three in Dien Bien Province, six in Binh Duong Province, one in Hai Phong, and two in Hung Yen Province.

The national tally stood at 2,362 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday morning, with 1,627 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.

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Ho Chi Minh City asks K-12 schools to keep shutting until end of February



Ho Chi Minh City authorities demanded on Sunday that K-12 schools be shuttered and students study online until the end of February to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

All schools from kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, vocational training centers, to continuing education facilities will continue to be closed until the end of February 28, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City said in a fiat on Sunday.

Ho Chi Minh City has over 1.7 million students studying at K-12 levels and vocational and continuing education facilities, along with 100,000 teachers and other staff.  

In order for students not to lag behind their curriculum, schools will teach online during the time.

City K-12 students started taking the Lunar New Year holiday on February 6 and were slated to resume studies on February 17.

They had switched to virtual learning on February 2 following an order by the People’s Committee one day earlier because of a new wave of local coronavirus infections.

During the remote learning, schools have to report the number of staff, teachers, students, and parents traveling to other provinces and cities outside of Ho Chi Minh City from February 2 to 16, those in direct and indirect contact with COVID-19 patients, and those living in areas isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports will be conducted from February 15 before 10:00 am daily.

The shutdown came in the wake of new coronavirus outbreaks in Vietnam on January 28, after the country had gone almost two months without any domestic transmission.

A total of 604 local infections have been recorded 13 provinces and cities since, including 430 in Hai Duong Province, 59 in Quang Ninh Province, 30 in Hanoi, and 36 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The majority of the domestically-transmitted cases were traced back to Hai Duong and Quang Ninh.

Health officials have conducted aggressive contact tracing as well as targeted testing and lockdowns since the new wave blindsided the country.

The national patient tally has reached 2,195 cases, including 1,297 domestic infections, as of Sunday morning, with 1,531 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

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