Philippines approves limited return to classroom learning

21-Sep-2021 Intellasia | PhilStar | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The Philippines on Monday moved closer to a limited reopening of schools that had been shut more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with President Rodrigo Duterte finally giving approval.

Before this, the United Nations Children’s Fund said the Philippines and Venezuela are the last countries that have yet to allow a safe return to classrooms.

The Philippines closed schools in March 2020 as the health crisis unfolded at home to become among Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

There is no official date yet for the start of the pilot run, nor a list of schools selected for this.

But Education Secretary Leonor Briones said this would be done initially for two months in 100 public schools in areas deemed “low risk” by the Department of Health.

She added schools would also need to pass the Department of Education’s safety criteria assessment, and would require support of local governments and parents’ written consent to allow their children to participate.

“We will start with 100 schools to observe how it will work,” said Briones at a Palace briefing in Filipino, “then we will add 20 private schools that would submit their plans.”

Under approved guidelines, the pilot run would be for Kindergarten up to Grade 3 in basic education, and for technical vocation students in senior high school.

Briones said class size would be a maximum of 12 students in Kindergarten, 16 in Grades 1 to 3, and 20 in five senior high schools.

School hours for basic education were set for three hours and four hours for those in senior high. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, too, that it would be done only every other week.

“If the pilot study is safe, we will gradually increase,” Briones added. “But we will watch closely the risk assessment. If there are changes, we will stop it like in other countries.”

Classes in the Philippines officially began on September 13, with remote learning still the setup for over 28.2 million students.

Groups have long warned of the negative impact of prolonging students’ learning in their homes, with many difficulties seen from the setup in its first year of implementation.


Category: Philippines

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