According to his education minister, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the resumption of face-to-face classrooms in locations judged low risk for COVID-19, with up to 120 schools set to participate in a two-month pilot reopening run.
According to a report released last week by UNICEF, the Philippines is one of 17 nations around the world where schools have been shuttered for the duration of the pandemic, resulting in “18 months of missed learning.”
As of this month, 39 countries had partially closed their schools, according to the report.
Duterte has delayed reopening schools, vowing to keep them closed until a vaccination is ready, claiming that doing so would “spell doom.” One of Asia’s worst COVID-19 epidemics has hit the Philippines.
Face-to-face learning will be limited to 3-4 hours each session, with parental and guardian agreement required, according to Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
The pilot will cover 100 public schools and 20 private institutions, limiting class size to 12 learners in kindergarten, 16 in grades 1-3, and 20 at senior high school level.
“If there are changes in the risk assessment, then we will stop it,” she said in a media briefing.
The pilot will begin as soon as possible, depending on the readiness of schools, she said.
The number of those enrolled in online learning in the school year that started last week rose to 28 million from about 26 million last year, Briones said.