Schools stay closed in Hanoi, HCM City due to COVID-19 threat hinh anh 1School officials spray disinfectant in a classroom in Bac Giang province. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Students in Hanoi's public schools from kindergarten to senior high school will not return to school until after March 8, Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung has said.

Chung made the announcement at a city-level meeting on prevention of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Hanoi on February 28.

“Our goal is to avoid human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in the city, but we still have different scenarios to prepare for the worst,” he said.

International schools in the capital are allowed to re-open on March 2 if they have confirmed their schools are safe and parents agree for their children to attend, the chairman added.

Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City will allow students from kindergarten to 11th grade stay home until March 15, while 12th graders are to return to school after March 8.

Vinh Long province and Da Nang City will have 12th graders and university students return to school on March 2, and students of all levels return on March 16 and March 8, respectively.

In Nghe An, Hoa Binh and Ha Tinh, senior and junior high school students will return to school after March 1 and 8 respectively, while students at other levels will stay home until after March 15.

In most other provinces, junior and senior high schools will re-open on March 2, while elementary schools and kindergartens will remain close until after March 8.

The localities’ announcements came after the Ministry of Education and Training on February 27 gave out its recommendation on the schools’ reopening dates as parents stayed on high alert over the worsening outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide.

Accordingly, the ministry proposed the People’s Committees of 63 provinces and centrally-run cities to let high school and regular education centres students go back to school on March 2.

As for younger children at kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, the local authorities can consider extending the school closure for another one or two weeks depending on their own circumstances.

“The outbreak is getting very complicated but we can’t sit still waiting till the outbreak is over and let the students go back to school,” Education Minister Phung Xuan Nha said in a Government’s meeting this week.

The ministry this week had to adjust the school year term for 2019-2020 after schools nationwide were forced to close amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam. 

The school year will set to end by June 30, with high school enrollment done by August 15. The most important examination of the year – the national high school graduation test of which the results will determine if one can enter a university – will take place between July 23 and July 26, according to the ministry.

The Government and the Ministry of Education and Training was under great pressure for the last week to reopen schools as all 16 patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Vietnam fully recovered with the last one discharged from the hospital on February 25.

No new cases were reported for the last 16 days.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) on February 28 sent notices to the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the People’s Committees of all municipalities asking them to strengthen health precautionary measures at schools and dormitories.

The MoH demanded all schools and dormitories be disinfected thoroughly before students return to schools./.