Groups seek road map on proposed return to in-person classes | Inquirer News

Groups seek road map on proposed return to in-person classes

/ 04:53 AM September 08, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Various student, teacher, and youth organizations on Tuesday pressed the government for a road map on the safe reopening of public schools, as a new academic year opens next Monday with distance learning still the norm.

As the Department of Education’s (DepEd) plan to allow limited in-person classes in at least 638 public schools hangs in the air, the groups noted that millions of students would again “be subjected to undersupported and onerous distance learning.’’

“The President has rejected at least three times the proposals to reopen schools in areas considered to be at low risk for a COVID-19 outbreak, without providing a clear road map on how and when it plans to do so,” said a joint statement issued by the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Coalition for People’s Right to Health, Kabataan and ACT Teachers party list groups, Amihan, Salinlahi, NNARA-Youth and Gabriela.


They called on the Duterte administration to roll out a clear plan for the safe conduct of limited and voluntary in-classroom learning in such areas.


DepEd officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Philippines is currently among the five countries that have yet to resume in-person classes since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), which last month expressed concern over the situation being endured by about 27 million Filipino students.

While schools across the globe were fully closed for an average of 79 teaching days last year, those in Philippines have been shuttered for more than a year, said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, Unicef Philippines Representative

Mental stress

Aside from lagging behind in lessons, among the consequences of this prolonged policy are mental distress, missed vaccinations and a higher risk of dropping out, child labor and child marriages, she added.

On Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Duterte was inclined to approve the pilot testing of in-person classes in low-risk areas, but that a group within the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would make a presentation to him first.

“The initial reaction of the President was, if it would really be a pilot and would be in areas where cases are low, he may allow it,” he said. Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that under the proposed guidelines, the pilot in-person classes would be for Kindergarten to Grade 3 level, with only 12 to 16 pupils per room to ensure physical distancing and classes limited to three hours.

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