Amid Covid surge, HCMC parents worry about online and offline lessons
Nhung, who lives in Thu Duc in Ho Chi Minh City, asked his son’s teacher on Monday to transfer him to an online class for quarantined students.
“If he returns to school, I fear he will be re-infected as the school has recorded almost a hundred cases of Covid-19 and their close contacts. Classes are permanently interrupted. Studying from this way is too unstable, so I just let my son stay home to protect him,” Nhung said.
Many parents like Nhung have doubts about online and offline classroom models as concerns grow over rising coronavirus cases in HCMC schools.
Nhung had voted against returning primary school students to the classroom in mid-February and said she thought they should just study online until the end of the school year. Kids are already used to online classes, and while they can’t compare to in-person classes, they’re enough, she explained.
“The disease is spreading very quickly in schools. Primary school students are not yet vaccinated, so who is not worried?” she asked.
Thinh, 38, who lives in Tan Phu district, said he wanted his daughter to return to school and was already prepared that his fourth grade daughter could be infected at any time, but the current coronavirus situation is wilder than anything he imagined.
“I thought a school would only have about one or two cases of Covid-19 at a time, but now it’s tens and hundreds of cases. In my daughter’s class, cluster after cluster is entered quarantine,” he said.
Thinh said constantly online and offline classes are not only detrimental to students, but also a burden on schools and teachers. Parents would also struggle to adjust their schedules, transport and care for their children between homes and schools.
“If there were only online lessons, we could hire someone to take care of our children at home. But now we have to take our child to school in the morning, and if he is infected, the teacher would call us anytime to bring him back. . Then we have to stay home for a week to take care of them,” he added.
‘It’s a choice’
After the Lunar New Year holiday, about 1.5 million elementary through high school and kindergarten students aged 3 to 6 returned to school. More than 200,000 children under the age of 3 also returned to school from March 1.
From February 7 to March 3, HCMC recorded over 44,000 cases of Covid-19 in schools. About 3,600 of them were school staff and teachers, while the rest were students. Cases continue to rise even now, with an additional 200 new cases recorded daily, according to the municipal Department of Education and Training.
Since February, the number of children infected with the coronavirus has doubled or even tripled every week, the HCMC health ministry said. Primary school students are more infected than other classes, he added.
Many parents in the southern city have suggested that children aged 5 to 12 stay at home and study online until they are vaccinated. They argued that since schools always have around 2-3 months off during the summer holidays and younger students do not have to worry about school leaving exams, there would be no no pressure to accelerate their program.
HCMC has approximately 963,000 children between the ages of 5 and 12. Schools are currently seeking parental input regarding Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 5-12.
HCMC’s education department meanwhile said in-person classes would continue as they are, along with strict coronavirus control measures.
Ho Tan Minh, bureau chief of the education department, said schools are still providing classes both online and offline. The online classes would be for both quarantined students and those who just want to stay home.
“Going back to school is a choice. If parents are worried, educational institutions will still allow children to study online,” he said.