Hanoi’s 12th graders returned to school on December 6 after seven months of online learning in the capital, joining their peers in many other provinces around Vietnam.

Hanoi’s Department of Education and Training announced last week a back-to-school plan for high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12. However, the plan was changed on December 5 due to further Covid-19 developments.

As such, the return of 10th and 11th graders has been delayed, while 12th graders will attend a mixture of online and in-person classes.

The returning students will have a staggered schedule – half will attend school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the other half will go on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Students will learn online for the days that they are at home.

Ninth graders in 18 outlying districts will continue to study at school. Students of other grades will be taught online. Preschool children will continue to learn at home.

The department requested schools to only arrange one block of learning (either in the morning or afternoon) instead of the usual two.

Le Bich Huong, a 12th grader at Viet Duc High School, said she is very excited about returning to in-person classes, due to their importance to pass high school and university entrance exams.

“I know the uncertainties caused by the pandemic are not over, so we will strictly follow all preventive measures,” she said.

Nguyen Boi Quynh, principal of the high school, said teachers can better instruct and assist students during in-person classes.

“To students whose parents did not agree to let them attend in-person classes, we can arrange online classes for them,” she said.

On the first day back-to-school, besides implementing disease prevention and control measures, the high school also polled students, asking them how they felt.

Parents told Viet Nam News that they were still worried when letting their children go to school. However, the move is necessary for their schooling, they said, adding that they felt reassured as children had received their first Covid-19 vaccine.

“Infection can happen anywhere, not only at school,” a father said.

High schools in Pho Hue ward of Hai Ba Trung district, and Kham Thien and Trung Phung ward in Dong Da district remained closed as they are located in high-risk areas of infections. Several private schools in the city, including Marie Curie High School and Luong The Vinh Secondary and High School, are continuing with online teaching.

Hanoi education department vice-director Pham Xuan Tien said that schools are well-prepared for reopening and they will strictly follow instructions from health and education authorities.

Tien called on students and their families to strictly implement the health ministry’s “5K message” on preventive measures, as well as checking temperatures before going to school.

“The education department asked schools to develop disease prevention and control plans,” he said, adding that once a suspected Covid-19 case was reported, schools will closely cooperate with local healthcare officials and take the required follow-up steps as soon as possible.

“Schools must now give priority to the twin tasks of Covid-19 prevention and control, and ensure teaching quality, helping students to complete learning programmes properly,” Tien said.