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Vietnamese province suspends graduation exam at two test sites over 166 suspected virus cases



The Department of Education and Training in the south-central Vietnamese province of Phu Yen suspended test taking at two high school graduation exam sites after detecting 166 suspected coronavirus infections among students and staff on Wednesday — the first day of the 2021 national high school graduation exam.

Traditionally held in July, the national high school graduation exam is an annual assessment taken by twelfth-grade students in Vietnam at the end of their studies.

The results of the exam are used to ensure students meet graduation requirements and to help colleges and universities make acceptance decisions.  

In light of the ongoing pandemic in Vietnam, many provinces and cities tested all candidates for COVID-19 before this year’s exam, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, requiring the in-person attendance of nearly one million students.

In its report to the Ministry of Education and Training on the first exam day, the Department of Education and Training in Phu Yen said 151 candidates and 15 staff members at seven exam venues had apparently contracted the coronavirus.

In response, the department suspended test-taking activities at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School in Tay Hoa District and Tran Hung Dao Middle School in Tuy Hoa City, where there were 39 and 100 students, respectively, are suspected to be infected with the pathogen.

All exam questions and exam records at those two test venues were returned to ensure confidentiality in accordance with national regulations.

The suspected test-takers were asked to stay home and adhere to instructions from local medical authorities.

They will take another test in the second phase of the exam, with the dates to be decided by the education ministry.

There were two special cases in which two candidates at two exam sites — Hung Vuong Middle School and Duy Tan High School in Tuy Hoa City — had already received their exam questions before staff were informed that they were suspected to have COVID-19.

The provincial education department allowed the two students to take the test as normal in isolation rooms, which were completely disinfected after the tests were handed in.

Those two students will take the remaining subjects of the exam during the second phase.

The 15 staff members in question were also asked to stay home under the monitoring of local medical authorities.

A spike in local coronavirus infections that emerged on June 23 in Phu Yen has yet to be brought under control.

The province has recorded 315 COVID-19 cases during this latest wave, according to the Ministry of Health’s update on Thursday morning.

In the same update, the health ministry confirmed 314 new cases of COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City and the neighboring province of Binh Duong, increasing the country’s tally to 23,385.

Recoveries have reached 8,557 while the death toll has mounted to 102, the majority of whom were older patients with critical underlying diseases.

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Vietnam wins three gold medals at 2021 Chemistry Olympiad



Vietnam’s four-member team has bagged three gold and one silver medals at the 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO 2021), according to the Ministry of Education and Training.

All the winners are 12th graders, who attended the IChO 2021 held virtually by Japan from July 25 to August 2 with the participation of 79 countries and territories.

The three gold medalists include Nguyen Le Thao Anh and Nguyen Duy Anh of the Hanoi – Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, and Pham Duc Nam Phuong from Nguyen Trai High School for the Gifted in Hai Duong Province.

The silver medal went to Nguyen Hoang Duong of the Hanoi University of Science’s High School for Gifted Students under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi.

The Vietnamese chemistry team competed online at the Hanoi National University of Education under the direct supervision of the organizers from Japan.

Last month, Vietnamese students won three gold and two silver medals at the 2021 International Physics Olympiad.

The same month also saw the Vietnamese teams grab one gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the 2021 International Mathematical Olympiad, and one gold, two silvers and one bronze at the 2021 International Biology Olympiad.

Overall, 37 Vietnamese students have been honored at this year’s Olympiads, including 12 gold, 13 silver and 10 bronze medals, along with two certificates of merit.

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Owners of kindergartens rush to sell schools due to prolonged COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam



Many owners of private kindergartens in Vietnam have been trying to sell their schools after they ran out of money to maintain their operations following a prolonged shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Facebook group has even been established to facilitate the sale of private kindergartens in many localities.

A user named N.C. stated in his post that he wanted to transfer the ownership of a preschool in southern Binh Duong Province due to the pandemic.

“The venue was licensed in August 2020,” C. elaborated.

“About 30 students were learning at the school prior to the outbreak, with monthly tuition at VND2 million [US$87].”

Another Facebook account named Ngoc Linh said she had managed to survive the previous three waves, but can no longer maintain the operation of her kindergarten due to the current round.

Linh stated that the school was officially open in October 2019, adding that she has spent over VND1.5 billion ($65,300) on it so far.

She also offers to liquidate all equipment and tools inside the office, classrooms, and playground, along with air conditioning and CCTV systems at cheap prices.

Similar to Linh, N.T.H.P., who owns a preschool in Ho Chi Minh City, said she has been paying rental fees over the past months even though the venue was closed due to COVID-19.

“I don’t know when the kids are able to come back,” P. said.

“I have no other choice but to sell my school.”

N.T.U., who runs a network of seven kindergartens in several districts in Ho Chi Minh City, considered herself among the luckier as she is still able to keep her facilities.

“A lot of my peers have run out of money to maintain the operations of their schools,” U. elaborated.

“One of them told me he had to spend up to VND200 million [$8,700] covering monthly rental fees, teachers’ salary and insurance, as well as interest on his bank loan.”

After failing to sell the school, he eventually gave up and let the landlord take all equipment to pay his debt, U. stated.

Vietnam is struggling with the fourth and worst COVID-19 outbreak, with 170,563 local infections recorded in 62 provinces and cities since April 27.

Social distancing measures have been implemented across the nation, while students are required to stay home as part of pandemic prevention and control efforts.

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Hanoi cancels second phase of national high school exam amid COVID-19 outbreak



Hanoi authorities on Wednesday announced that the second phase of the national high school graduation exam, which was initially slated for August 6-7, will be canceled due to concerns over the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

Traditionally held in July, the national high school graduation exam is an annual assessment that 12th-grade students in Vietnam’s K-12 system are required to sit after they finish their studies.

Results of the test are needed for graduation and to help universities and colleges enroll undergraduates.

On account of the coronavirus, this year’s iteration of the exam is implemented in two phases. 

While the first, carried out on July 7-8, involved the majority of candidates, the second phase is intended for students who were unable to finish their tests because of the pandemic.

In a recent guiding document, the Hanoi Department of Education and Training decided to pass all candidates who signed up for this year’s exam and did not get disciplined by the exam panel in the first phase, but were not able to complete or enter the first phase because of unforeseeable circumstances.

The department requires all high schools and educational centers to inform the eligible candidates about their granted privilege.

Those who wish to qualify for the privilege would need to apply to their respective education facilities through emails, so that the school officials can compile a list of candidates to submit to the municipal education authority. 

In their statement, the Hanoi Department of Education and Training also ordered education facilities to notify their students of the upcoming aptitude tests for the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City campuses of the Vietnam National University, which will supersede the national high school exam results to decide entrances to these higher institutions. 

Other higher education facilities are encouraged to devise their own tests, instead of using the national exam results, to evaluate their applicants.

The capital city has reported 1,082 COVID-19 infections since April 27, when the fourth wave started wreaking havoc in Vietnam.

On Saturday, Hanoi authorities began the implementation of the prime minister’s Directive No. 16, which requires all residents to stay home unless for essential duties, plus banning all public transport, taxi, ride-hailing, and food delivery services.

Vietnam on Thursday morning reported 2,821 new cases of COVID-19, increasing the country’s tally to 123,640 with 27,457 recoveries, according to the Ministry of Health.

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