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Ho Chi Minh City to pilot reopening classrooms on December 13

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Ho Chi Minh City authorities have decided to reopen schools for students of grades 1, 9 and 12 on a trial basis from December 13, according to a decision issued by the municipal administration on Wednesday.

The trial school resumption comes after a closure since late May, a month after the fourth and deadliest wave of COVID-19 infections erupted in Vietnam.

The reopening of in-person classes for the three grades will last for two weeks, while five-year-old kids may come back to school on December 27, according to the decision.

Particularly for Can Gio District, Thanh An Kindergarten, Thanh An Elementary School, and Thanh An Middle and High School will resume physical learning for all grades from December 13.

On the first day of school reopening, the schools will not organize teaching but will instead examine students’ health, direct them to make health declarations, and train them in epidemic prevention measures, the city’s Department of Education and Training said.

The starting, ending, and break time for grades at a school will be staggered to comply with the requirement on safe distances among students, according to the department.

After the trial period, a conference will be held to review the plan’s outcomes, based on which the education department will coordinate with the Department of Health to advise the municipal government about whether physical classes can be resumed for other grades in part of or the entire city from January 3, 2022.

The reopening of elementary and high schools will depend on the epidemic level of each locality, according to an official of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training.

Accordingly, localities with epidemic levels 1, 2, and 3, or low, medium, and high risk of COVID-19 transmission, will be allowed to open schools providing that they meet all epidemic prevention requirements, the official said.

If any students or teachers or school staff have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and loss of taste or smell, they must stay at home, immediately inform the school management board, and go to a medical facility for examination and treatment, the department said.

Schools are required to hold meetings with parents for coordination measures, train teachers and other staff in COVID-19 prevention and control, and provide safety guidance for students.

From October 20, the city has piloted some face-to-face classes at the Thanh An elementary and middle schools in Can Gio District, which is considered as a low-risk area.

All educational institutions must complete epidemic prevention plans before December 3 and such plans must be approved by local steering committees for epidemic prevention and control before they can resume operations.

Reopening schools is a significant issue for a city of 1.7 million students like Ho Chi Minh City as many localities have become ‘green’ zones, or areas at low risk of COVID-19 infection, said chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Phan Van Mai.

Such reopening came amid the context that Ho Chi Minh City had basically completed full COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 12 to 17, with a population of 702,563, by the end of November, according to the Department of Health.

The city had also administered around eight million first vaccine doses and some 6.7 million second jabs to its adult population as of December 1, according to the national COVID-19 vaccination portal.  

However, the southern city remains the biggest COVID-19 epicenter in Vietnam, with 474,483 infections and over 18,000 deaths as of Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health.

City authorities reported 1,738 cases and 80 fatalities on Thursday. 

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/education/20211203/ho-chi-minh-city-to-pilot-reopening-classrooms-on-december-13/64508.html

Education

Scholarships worth $440,000 awarded to 800 children who lost parents to COVID-19 in Vietnam

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The Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, alongside two subsidiaries of Bitex Group, has announced it will award 800 scholarships worth a combined VND10 billion (US$440,238) over the next five years to local children who lost at least one parent to COVID-19.

The ministry, Binh Tay Import-Export JSC, and Anh Khue Watch JSC on Tuesday presented 400 scholarships to children who lost at least one of their parents since the beginning of the latest coronavirus outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City.  

The remaining 400 scholarships will be awarded to children in Dong Nai province, Binh Duong Province, and other localities across the country.

“The scholarship will help pay for the education and daily needs of those children who lost one or both parents so that they can have some stability in their lives,” Dr. Tran Van Lam, an official from the education ministry, said at the sponsorship event on Tuesday.

“We hope it will reduce the burden and pain of losing their loved ones.”

The children supported by the program will receive need-based aid until they turn 15 years old, according to Nguyen Xuan Dung, chairman of Bitex Group. 

A different level of sponsorship will be provided when they are between 15 and 18 years old.

Students who lost loved ones to COVID-19 receive scholarships at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City, January 11, 2022. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Students who lost loved ones to COVID-19 receive scholarships at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City, January 11, 2022. Photo: Tuoi Tre

At Tuesday’s event, several of the scholarship recipients took the stage to tell their stories.

“After the death of my father, I was so sad,” said Nguyen Le Ngoc Anh, a third grader, whose grandmother and father died of COVID-19.

Anh is now living with a sick mother and a 15-month-old sibling.

“My mother and the whole family were very worried about me, but now many people seem to understand what I’m going through, so they help me to feel better,” she said.

Duong Tien Thanh, a ninth grader whose mother died of COVID-19 about five months ago, thanked the sponsors for consoling him and motivating him to study hard for a better future. 

Ho Chi Minh City has documented more than 509,501 COVID-19 infections, including 20,018 deaths, out of the 1,659,113 patients recorded nationwide since the fourth virus wave hit Vietnam on April 27, 2021.

The latest coronavirus outbreak has taken away the parents of 1,517 students in the southern metropolis, according to the municipal Department of Education and Training’s statistics announced in September last year.

During the ongoing flare-up, more than 2,500 children across the country have lost parents, according to Suc Khoe & Doi Song (Health & Life), the mouthpiece of the Ministry of Health, which cited the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs last November.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/education/20220114/scholarships-worth-440000-awarded-to-800-children-who-lost-parents-to-covid19-in-vietnam/65214.html

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More localities welcome students back to school in Vietnam

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Monday saw students return to brick-and-mortar classrooms in more localities across Vietnam after they had taken online lessons at home for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those localities include Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai Province, An Giang Province, Hanoi, and Bac Giang Province, where the outbreak has stabilized.

In Ba Ria – Vung Tau, ninth and 12th graders were the first school returnees pursuant to a temporary schedule that has been planned until February 12, including the Lunar New Year holiday from January 24 to February 6.

In Ho Chi Minh City, education authorities in Cu Chi District allowed seventh and eighth graders to come back to school on Monday.

Ninth, tenth, 11th, and 12th graders in Cu Chi District and all students of the six aforementioned grades in other districts had resumed offline learning since January 4.

In Dong Nai Province, ninth and 12th graders in Bien Hoa City pioneered in-person learning on Monday while students in other grades are expected to follow suit on February 14.

In An Giang Province, schools only reopened to certain ninth and 12th graders in Chau Phu District under a pilot scheme.

In Hanoi, 12th graders in areas at low and medium risk of COVID-19 transmission in Hai Ba Trung and Tay Ho Districts, as well as ninth and 12th graders in those at the same levels of COVID-19 safety in Thanh Tri District restarted in-person lessons on Monday.

In Bac Giang City under the namesake province, kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and vocational schools have resumed offline operations since Monday.

Schools at all levels across Vietnam have intermittently closed and reopened in light of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 fourth wave since early May 2021.

Vietnam has reported 1,914,393 patients, including 31 imported Omicron infections, since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the country in early 2020.

Health workers have given over 161 million vaccine doses since vaccination was rolled out nationwide on March 8, 2021.

More than 78.2 million of the country’s 98 million people have received at least one dose while upwards of 71.1 million have been injected twice.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/education/20220111/more-localities-welcome-students-back-to-school-in-vietnam/65164.html

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English centers remain quiet notwithstanding permission to reopen in Ho Chi Minh City

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Many English language centers in Ho Chi Minh City have remained closed even though local authorities already allowed the resumption of in-person learning earlier this week.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has contacted some popular English centers such as VUS, ILA, and YOLA, whose consultants said they were unclear when in-person classes would resume even when Vietnam has switched to living safely with the coronavirus from a zero-COVID strategy, backed by a wide vaccine coverage rate.

Most courses are still organized online, but learners can register for offline classes in advance by taking placement tests virtually.

Now is not a good time

This is not a suitable time to welcome back learners as most students are busy with their first-term exams at school, a representative of SEAMEO Regional Training Center explained, adding that students will have a Lunar New Year break in about three weeks.

Do Thuy Hong, CEO of IvyPrep Education, said she is glad that foreign language centers are permitted to offer in-person classes, but IvyPrep Education is still concerned about the safety of students, staff, and the community given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center is conducting a survey to assess the demand of students and their parents before making further decisions, Hong added.

It may apply a hybrid learning model, which includes 50 percent of online classes and 50 percent of in-person courses.

“We encourage fully-vaccinated middle school and high school students to take part in offline courses, while elementary school students should continue with remote learning,” Hong elaborated.

Most learners are not vaccinated

Aside from facilities running preparatory programs for English certificates such as the IELTS and TOEIC tests, most English centers in Ho Chi Minh City offer their courses to young learners, according to a manager of a center in Tan Binh District.

The manager said more than 65 percent of the learners at his facility are elementary school students, who have not received COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, learners and teachers must be inoculated with at least one dose to partake in offline classes at local centers, according to public health regulations.

“Unless authorities set out specific criteria for younger learners, we will have to wait until elementary school students are vaccinated to reopen,” the manager said.

A representative of APAX Leaders said that the center will maintain remote learning in the meantime as most of its learners are in seventh grade and lower.

An English center remains closed in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Trong Nhan / Tuoi Tre

An English center remains closed in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Trong Nhan / Tuoi Tre

Foreign teachers count the days

Raphael Galuz, a Frenchman who teaches English at a center in District 7, said he had had challenging months as strict social distancing measures resulted in his wage being halved.

His center had to lower tuition fees to discourage learners from quitting during the pandemic, and thus teachers’ payment also decreased, Galuz explained.

Chubby Vinaltino, a Singaporean teacher at an English center in Tan Phu District, said he is teaching only two classes, about eight hours, per week, which is four to five times lower than before the outbreak began on April 27 last year.

Vinaltino only received US$10 for an hour of online teaching, compared to the $15-20 per hour that he got from in-person instruction.

The teacher added that his income had shrunk by $70-80 per week, which made it difficult for him to pay for food, rent, and utilities.

“Three of my friends who are English teachers have had to move to cheaper places to live,” Vinaltino said.

Some even had to sell their own phone, he added.

Vinaltino said his only wish is that English centers welcome back learners as soon as possible, which will help foreign teachers solve their financial problems.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded over 507,000 local COVID-19 infections since the fourth virus wave hit the country on April 27, 2021.

Due to the serious outbreak, municipal authorities required all students to stay home and switch to remote learning on May 10, which resulted in the suspension of in-person classes at all educational facilities, including English language centers.

After the pandemic was put under control, ninth and twelfth graders were allowed to resume in-person learning from mid-December, while seventh, eighth, tenth, and eleventh graders could return to school on January 4.

Centers teaching foreign languages and computing were permitted to resume offline classes from January 4, but teachers and learners must be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.

The city began providing vaccination to children aged 12 to 17 in late October.

As of December 9, 96.6 percent of residents in this age range had received one dose, while 85.5 percent had been jabbed twice.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/education/20220109/english-centers-remain-quiet-notwithstanding-permission-to-reopen-in-ho-chi-minh-city/65135.html

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