Several schools and universities in Ho Chi Minh City have asked a total number of about 100,000 students to stay home as one of the newly-discovered COVID-19 patients studied at a campus while a handful of the students came into direct interaction with another infection case.
Nguyen Quoc Anh, vice-rector of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HUTECH), said that the university sent an announcement to all of its students, which are more than 30,000, asking them to take a break between Wednesday and December 6.
HUTECH will wait for the instruction from the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control to decide on the school resumption.
In addition, the university also notified the families of the students about the school break for COVID-19 prevention and control.
The school closure came as one freshman in the English language major for distance education, who is a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant and was confirmed as COVID-19 patient 1,342 on November 29, had attended class on November 22. He also practiced phonetic exercises with his lecturer.
Vice-rector Anh said on Tuesday night that two lecturers of the university were sent to a centralized quarantine facility, with 25 of its students to follow suit shortly afterward.
Disinfection was scheduled for HUTECH’s entire campus on Wednesday morning.
In the same move, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages and Information Technology (HUFLIT) on Wednesday morning issued an announcement to tell all of its 10,000 students to stay home from Thursday through December 6. The school will issue a new notice after that.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, rector of HUFLIT, explained that the university’s campus in District 10 is located quite close to the places that patient 1,347 visited, including the Highlands Coffee shop in Van Hanh Mall on Su Van Hanh Street, the ICOOL karaoke parlor at 120 Thanh Thai Street, and the branch of KEY English Center at 285/24 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ward 12 in the same district.
Patient 1,347 is an English language teacher and a friend who had come into close contact with patient 1,342 during the latter’s self-isolation at home.
“Teachers and students were quite worried about the situation, so the school decided to let all students leave school until the end of December 6,” said Tuan, adding that the university’s studying activities will move online.
Meanwhile, Ton Duc Thang University will seal off its main campus in Tan Phong Ward, District 7, where about 23,000 students are studying, from Wednesday to December 6. The students will study online instead.
A student from the university’s faculty of electrical and electronic engineering, T.H.T., attended a class of patient 1,347 in District 10 on November 24, before that patient was placed in quarantine.
T. then attended four lessons, with the participation of 40-70 students during each, at the university and traveled around the campus from November 24 to 28.
During that period, academic activities at Ton Duc Thang University took place normally with a large number of students coming to the now sealed-off campus every day.
Another student of Van Lang University, who went to the same CITYGYM room as patient 1,347 during the patient’s unchecked period, has also been sent to a quarantine facility, Vo Van Tuan, vice-rector of the university, confirmed.
The first test result of that student returned negative for the virus, with the second to be released on Thursday, according to Tuan.
The University of Natural Science under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City has decided to temporarily close its dormitory at 135B Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1, where about 300 students are staying, on Wednesday and Thursday after two of its students had direct contact with patient 1,347 and have been placed in centralized quarantine.
The Ho Chi Minh University of Education also requested all of its 14,000 students to turn to studying via the Internet from 12:00 pm on Wednesday through December 13.
The University of Finance – Marketing issued an urgent notice on Wednesday to suspend all education and training affairs for 20,000 students at all of its campuses from 1:00 pm the same day until the end of December 5.
Before these universities, several elementary schools and high schools in some districts had also asked some or all of their students to stay home due to connections with patient 1,347.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally on Wednesday morning reached 1,351, with 1,195 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
Three cases recently detected in the community, including patients 1,347, 1,348 and 1,349, are in Ho Chi Minh City. They were all traced back to patient 1,342.
Some 500 people in the city who had direct contact with patient 1,347 have been sent to quarantine facilities, of whom two were later confirmed as patients 1,348 and 1,349.
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A mother of hundreds of children in Vietnam
Ton Nu Quynh Duong, 66, started her first work of public philanthropy in 2010 and has since devoted her life to it.
Her philanthropic mission began with a child care home of Phu Thuong at Phu Thuong Commune, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien-Hue Province, located in central Vietnam.
“[The children in need] call me ‘mom’ and I consider them my children too,” Duong said.
“In many cases, I feel richer than a billionaire because of having more than one hundred children, who are more valuable than gold or silver.”
Making a dream come true
Inside a small kitchen of the Phu Thuong childcare center, a slim woman with grey hair is preparing meals for her thirty ‘children.’
The house is cozy despite the chilly weather outside.
As a former teacher, Duong graduated from the faculty of biology of the Hue University of Education.
During her teaching career, she worked at some of the high schools in Phu Loc District, Thua Thien-Hue
She is loved by many generations of students after more than thirty years of devotion and sympathy.
When she was a young teacher, Duong often felt concerned about the poor and studious children.
Many of them were forced out of school to earn a living.
At that time, the only way she could help them was to pay a visit to their home after school.
She tried to persuade their parents to let them return to the classroom by offering to help them with part of their tuition.
More than one hundred students were able to continue studying thanks to teacher Duong’s support.
Apart from teaching for extra hours, she spared a part from her humble monthly salary to provide them with notebooks, clothes, and textbooks.
“Many of the first generation of students have become successful and want to pay it forward,” Duong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“So, they offer help to the students that suffer the same plight as them in the past.
“That generation has succeeded, and as a circle, many of them have returned to help difficult generations.
“My job is like sowing, it’s time for those seeds to germinate and I feel really happy about that.”
Around mid-2008, Duong accepted a job offer at Xuan Phu Childcare Center while she was working as a teacher at Phu Loc Middle School.
The underprivileged children’s living conditions at the center made her obsessed.
The children who should have been in the arms of their parents were left alone.
She told herself that if she had the opportunity and appropriate resources, she would spend the rest of her life with these children.
Retiring in 2010, Duong decided to participate in the childcare home of Phu Thuong to continue her dream of sharing with poor students.
The open house was established in 2007 from the contribution of the family of late Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thong and his relatives living in Australia with the aim of nurturing poor and studious students in the province.
“It is extremely hard and challenging, but I never regret choosing this job,” Duong confided.
“I don’t need anyone to praise me, just smile at the challenges and obstacles to move forward.”
Being both a teacher and mother
“Working here as ‘three in one,’ I am a teacher, a mother, and a psychologist,” Duong smiled when being asked what her main job in the center is.
With 30 years of experience in teaching, she has always used the most effective teaching methods.
In addition to mentoring the children by herself, she asked teachers from other schools to help the students.
Duong used her pension and the money she was given by her siblings to pay for other teachers.
It is Duong’s commitment and devotion that have taken many underprivileged students to various campuses such as the Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the University of Danang – University of Science and Technology.
Huynh Phi Cong Hung, an eighth grader at Phu Thuong Middle School, said Duong not only taught him school subjects but also showed him how to be well-behaved.
There are always more than thirty students here and Duong takes good care of them all.
In Hung’s opinion, Duong was like his second mother.
To teacher Duong, most of her students are in the “most difficult” age.
Each of them is a question mark to her, which prompts her to pay more attention to their behavior, nutrition, and sleep.
“Every child here has a unique situation that I would deal with them depending on which circumstances they are in,” Duong said.
“I always fear that my improper behavior will ruin a person’s life.”
The care she gives has resulted in good children.
According to Duong, the open house has now become a center for gatherings and reunions on special occasions.
“Many children who have grown up here stood by me in a quiet way to help the following generations, which makes me truly happy,” Duong confided.
Vietnamese schools allow students to stay home during cold weather
Tens of thousands of students in many northern and north-central Vietnamese provinces were allowed to stay home on Monday as temperatures dropped below 10 degrees Celsius due to the effects of a strong cold spell.
In the north-central province of Nghe An, the provincial Department of Education and Training issued a document requesting students of kindergarten and elementary schools to let students stay home if the temperature falls below 10 degrees Celsius, and seven degrees Celsius for middle and high schools.
In addition, schools have to inform the students and their parents of the school break as soon as possible.
Accordingly, all kindergarten students in the province’s Ky Son District were asked to stay home to protect their health as temperatures ranged between 4-7 degrees Celsius, with frost forming in many places on Monday afternoon, according to Phan Van Thiet, head of the district’s bureau of education and training.
Besides, 41 elementary and middle schools along Vietnam-Lao borders and in mountainous areas, where many students of Mong ethnic people are living, were also closed.
As a majority of those schools provide semi-boarding services with the students living far away and having opted to stay at their campuses over the past few days, local authorities directed them to strengthen measures to combat the cold for students, including using firewood, Thiet said.
In northern Son La Province, 401 out of 527 kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools and 16 out of 44 high schools urged students to stay home on Monday, according to the provincial education and training department.
Schools at all levels in the three districts of Yen Chau, Thuan Chau, and Van Ho were shuttered.
In northern Dien Bien Province, nearly 55,000 students of 130 schools were given leave to avoid the cold on Monday morning.
Likewise, 98,175 students from 256 schools in Nghia Lo Town, Yen Binh, Van Chan, Luc Yen, Tram Tau, and Mu Cang Chai Districts in northern Yen Bai Province, stayed home.
Meanwhile, their peers in Yen Bai City and Tran Yen District still went to school.
Student casualties from making handmade firecrackers sound alarm in Vietnam
Traumatic consequences from cases where teenage students created and played with handmade firecrackers from online videos, especially when Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) nears, have been worrying people in north-central Vietnamese localities.
Authorities in north-central Nghe An and Ha Tinh Provinces have continuously handled cases related to creating or playing with handmade firecrackers among local students in recent days.
In Ha Tinh, the authorities have discovered five cases, involving ten students, of homemade firecrackers, seizing 9.2kg of flash powder and 20 firecrackers from November 15 to date, according to the provincial police.
For the latest case, police in Ha Tinh’s Duc Tho District found T.Q.L., 16, hailing from Tan Dan Commune storing 300 grams of flash powder — the main ingredient of a firecracker — in Tung Anh Commune on December 20.
The authorities also seized 100 more grams of flash powder and handmade firecrackers at L.’s residence.
L. admitted that he had purchased the aforementioned amount of explosive compound from V.D.P., 16, living in the same commune.
A raid on P.’s house uncovered 400 grams of flash powder, 300 grams of sulfur, and dozens of firecrackers already wrapped in paper, which he had bought online.
P. said he sold parts of the handmade firecrackers for money and kept the remaining for Tet celebration, according to Nguyen Thanh Chung, team leader of the Duc Tho District police bureau.
According to Chung, the firecrackers created by P. are dangerous as they explode with loud bangs and high damage.
On the same day, police in Thach Chau Commune, located in Ha Tinh’s Loc Ha District, found four middle-school students illegally using firecrackers.
They also confiscated 1.5kg of sulfur, 1.14kg of potassium chloride salt, flash powder, and 24 homemade firecrackers at these students’ houses.
The students said they had purchased these ingredients and aped the way of making the firecrackers online.
They seem to have learned no lesson from serious accidents in Ha Tinh and Nghe An Provinces, where several teenage students created and played with homemade firecrackers.
On the afternoon of January 29, 2019, six people were injured and D.V.L., a ninth-grade student, died in Duc Tho District’s Bui La Nhan Commune after L. tried to make handmade firecrackers from chemicals he had bought online.
On January 19, 2020, L.T.S., 15, was severely burnt in an attempt to create firecrackers.
Most recently, C.T.Tr., 14, and C.T.H., 15, were badly injured while the two brothers were playing with firecrackers at their grandmother’s house in Vinh City, Nghe An Province at about 2:00 pm on January 3.
H. had his left hand completely damaged while Tr.’s lips, cheeks, and eyes were burned after the explosion.
“In addition to the responsibility of the schools, parents need to join hands to control and supervise their children’s use of the Internet, advising them on the harm of making firecrackers, in order to avoid undue consequences for themselves and family,” said Tran Trong Khiem, principal of Cuong Gian Middle School in Nghi Xuan District, Ha Tinh.
Vietnamese law prohibits all of activities related to the production, trading, transportation, import, export, storage, and use of firecrackers and fireworks and materials thereof, except for some specific cases.
The government recently amended a decree, which will take effect on January 11, allowing all Vietnamese light up fireworks for some special events such as Lunar New Year festivals, birthdays, wedding ceremonies, conferences, grand openings, anniversaries, and cultural activities.
However, the fireworks allowed are the kind that will not explode.
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