In response to the June 5 taped address of Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, education secretary Leonor Briones released a statement today, June 8, 2020, confirming the postponement of face-to-face classes until a vaccine is available.
Preparations for blended learning are currently underway and classes are still scheduled to start on August 24, 2020.
As of writing, 6 million students have signed up for remote enrollment, a fifth of the last year’s 27.7 million enrollees.
Editor’s Note: It is always difficult to review articles like this, especially for us who know the implications of such action on our children. All around the world, classes are re-opening, and children are given the opportunity to live a relatively normal life. There is no viable reason for keeping children at home, and there is a large number of studies today showing us that the cost of school closures are higher than the benefits it offers [see Science says it’s time to open schools, Children’s Commission: Children should be back in school, German experts: Schools and day care centers should be reopened, 60+ doctors and educators release statement on the situation of children and adolescents during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Philippine Doctors Weight In On The Educational Situation Of Children And Adolescents].
Our children may be physically healthy today, but what about their mental, and emotional development? Have we ever thought of the long-term impact of this decision?
If the government insists on waiting for a vaccine, does it mean that they will force families to have all children vaccinated against COVID-19? If yes, then are we enabling the state in limiting our right to choose? Will we allow our children to become test subjects of a vaccine which has not yet been proven to be safe? Will the government fund the vaccination of the all students?
We must remember that we are still reeling from the impact of the lockdown (in fact for many major cities, lockdowns are not yet over). People are still afraid because the government has failed to clarify what the national exit strategy is, and why it is important to lift lockdowns now. In fact, there is still no news that covers many of the researches we are doing on this website. Most news outlets still adhere to the old narrative – that COVID-19 is deadly and highly infectious, that lockdowns are necessary, that children and asymptomatic cases are a major source of infection. All of these have been proven to be incorrect, and data from the ground shows us that our health care system can handle the new cases of infection.
Political concerns are plaguing us, even as we are still on the process of coping up with the “new normal”. Adults have become pre-occupied dealing with our own issues highlighted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, our children are left behind, their well being forgotten, their dreams for the future disregarded. We must remind ourselves that all the adults today will leave this world, and our children will be left on their own. Will this decision to postpone face-to-face classes prepare them for that life? Are we giving them what they truly need? Or are we only responding based on what is comfortable and convenient for us as adults?
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