Win-win-win situation: students, parents, teachers welcome HCMC school reopening

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Although the Covid-19 pandemic keeps developing in complicated fashion, Monday’s reopening of schools for 9th and 12th graders in HCMC was a happy occasion for students, parents and teachers.

Tran Doan De of Tan Phu District took his grandchild to school in District 5 and back after seven months of online learning. The family had mixed feelings about the reopening, but the tight Covid-19 precautions assuaged De’s concerns.

The pandemic was different from the beginning of the year so the fear and panic triggered by new infections are gone, De said. He noted that the 12th graders were fully vaccinated and expected to remain safe in all situations.

While the family has not placed any pressure on his granddaughter, a student majoring in physics, being motivated to learn is of the highest importance, especially for 12th graders, De said, adding that attending school in person will help. It will also help students prepare better for their high school graduation exam and their future careers, he stressed.

Like De, Nguyen Hanh was obviously happy as her daughter attended the first lessons at school after seven months of online learning. Hanh said her daughter had been on an emotional roller coaster – from happiness for not having to attend school, to hopes of getting back to school, to resigned acceptance of online learning and to renewed excitement at the school reopening.

Hanh had been worried that online learning was not as effective as in-person classes and was hoping badly that the latter would resume. She said online learning may not fully reflect learning progress, regardless of her child’s high scores. She felt strongly that in-person classes would be better for ensuring that her child could advance to university studies.

Hanh reminded her daughter repeatedly about taking Covid-19 precautions as she prepared food and water to be taken to school. She also picked her daughter from school, taking care to avoid nearby crowds.

After developing a clear understanding of anti-disease rules and the various steps for handling infections, parents are hoping that everyone will follow the precautions and remain safe. They are hoping the pilot phase of in-person classes will go without a hitch so students of other grades can also return to school as well.

More effective

Besides the parents, students are delighted to be able to meet their friends and connect with teachers again.

Nguyen Hong Khanh, a 12th grader at the Le Hong Phong School for the Gifted, said that in-person classes have relieved her from the tension and dullness of online classes and she is able to learn better.

This year, she has picked three subjects – math, chemistry, and biology for university entrance exam (also the high school graduation exam). She is also targeting studying in a foreign university and has been accepted by three schools abroad, so she is focusing on both high school graduation and improving her English skills.

Khanh’s schoolmate Huynh Nguyen Minh Khang had English and math lessons on the first day of the school’s reopening. He was eager to attend classes ahead of the high school graduation and university entrance exam.

At the end of the first day, Khang said he was satisfied with the school’s anti-pandemic measures. A key factor was awareness and calmness about not getting infected at the school, he said.

Unlike Khanh, Khang said learning at school was not as comfortable as learning at home. But it was more effective, he said.

There were several schools that did not take any lesson on the first reopening day, choosing to focus instead on disseminating timetables and Covid-19 prevention measures. In one and half hours, 300 students of the Luong Dinh Cua secondary school in Thu Duc City reviewed lessons learnt online, health monitoring, health declaration, learning methods, and higher education choices.

Do Chau San, a 9th grader, said he was content with learning at school. In-person classes are a strong motivation for finishing the last year of secondary school on a high note, he said.

Tougher, but more comfortable

Teachers are also relieved about returning to in-class teaching and the blackboards that they are familiar with.

Nguyen Thanh Tuan, a math teacher at the Luong Dinh Cua Secondary School, said he was delighted with meeting his students for the first time, even amidst pandemic problems. He also felt that in-person teaching would be better for learners. Tuan highlighted one problem about the new situation.

Teachers would have to teach several classes of smaller size, requiring much more time and effort.

Physics teacher Nguyen Tuong Thinh with the Nguyen Du High School in District 10 said in-person teaching was better and easier for eliciting and assessing reactions from students. With online teaching, it would normally take two to three seconds for students to answer him, but during in-person classes, the responses are instant.

He said he was also happy with the high dedication shown by his students in the first lessons.

Thinh also keeps reminding the students about taking due Covid-19 precautions. He noted that the school planned rapid testing for students on Sundays to ensure the safety of classes to be held in the following days. He also felt that all the students being vaccinated added safety to the learning environment.

On the first day of schools reopening in HCMC, 128,000 9th and 12th graders, or 90 percent of the total, attended classes. Only Cu Chi District has deferred the reopening to December 20 over low consensus among parents.