Many local and international primary and secondary schools in Vietnam will remain closed until February 10. Students were supposed to return from the Tet holiday today (Monday). However, the Departments of Education in 47 provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have decided to close all schools this week to help avoid the further spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
There have been nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness worldwide since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China last December; at least 250 people have died. Last week, the virus was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the outbreak continues to spread beyond China. There are eight confirmed cases of the virus in Vietnam to date.
International School Ho Chi Minh City, which has a primary and secondary campus in HCMC, is one of many international schools to remain closed this week. And, like most schools, it hopes to avoid any disruption to student learning by offering virtual and online learning to its students.
ISHCMC's head of school Adrian Watts said: "Given the uncertainty regarding this virus, the recent revision of the WHO assessment of the virus and its upgrade, we believe it is prudent for us to postpone the re-opening of our school for seven days. School will therefore re-open on Monday 10th February unless you are informed otherwise.
"During this postponement we will make every effort to continue teaching and learning. From Tuesday morning, students will be expected to undertake online learning that will be provided by their teachers.
"Teachers will be working at school and will be available throughout the school day to support students in their learning, through our online systems or via email."
Prior to the closure, ISHMC had taken precautionary measures such as temperature checks of all students and adults entering campus, deep cleaning the campus, and documenting where students spent their vacation.
European International School Ho Chi Minh City also announced the school's closure this week, saying: "We will maintain teaching and learning next week through our online platforms. Teachers will be in touch with parents and students from Monday. Parents may also contact the teacher/s through email as usual.
"Maintaining a safe environment for our students is our first priority at this time and we thank you for your kind understanding."
And Concordia International School, Hanoi told parents: "The decision to cancel school is never easy. As an educational institution, we believe student instruction is critically important to growth and learning. Concordia seeks to balance that learning with the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff.
"After consultation with a wide group of school leaders and health officials, Concordia believes that closing is necessary to promote well being."
Elsewhere in South East Asia, all schools in Hong Kong – including local and international kindergartens, primary, secondary and special schools – will stay closed until March 2. Read more here. The Chinese New Year holiday has been extended by two weeks as Hong Kong raises its response level to the Coronavirus outbreak to "emergency".
In Singapore, the Ministry of Education has imposed a 14-day compulsory leave of absence for all students and staff at local schools returning from Mainland China. Schools reopened as usual, though, for all other students after the Chinese New Year break. Read more here.
In Thailand, which has 14 confirmed cases – the highest number of infections outside China – all schools remain open as normal. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has assured the public that the Novel Coronavirus situation in Thailand is “100% under control”.