Doubts raised over reopening of Philippine schools on Aug.24 - GulfToday

Doubts raised over reopening of Philippine schools on Aug.24


Teachers check the temperatures of the students outside a school in Manila. File

Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent

Doubts have been raised over the opening of classes for the new school year 2020-2021 scheduled on Aug.24 following President Duterte's announcement he would not allow face-to-face classes especially among the children if they have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Duterte has allowed the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to decide on the opening of classes, based on his meeting with top department of education officials led by Secretary Leonor Briones, which was aired on TV and social media.

"For me, they should be given a vaccine. I'm talking about the months of October, November and December," Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English over the new possible date for the opening of classes.

Briones said they would comply with the president's order but she also pointed out they were ready to stick to the Aug.24 opening of the new school year as she added: "In spite of all the fears — COVID-19 and the economy — enrollment is still going on. Their assumption is that classes will start on Aug.24 and we have achieved our target enrollment" which reached 22.3 million as of July 30.

Briones reiterated that blended learning would be their main approach, revealing they have been conducting dry-runs for months and that all the education department districts have been conducting simulations using different approaches.

At the same time, however, initial data from the enrollment survey conducted by the education department said many parents have raised three major concerns in the adoption of distance learning.

These are lack of gadgets, insufficient mobile data allowance and unstable Internet connection, which parents feared would adversely affect the learning process of their children.

More than 6.9 million cited unstable mobile and Internet connections while over 6.8 million noted lack of available gadgets and equipment suitable for distance learning.

Based on initial data, most parents said their preferred education through printed or digital modules instead of online based and other distance learning modalities.

More than 8.8 million parents chose modular learning as their preferred distance learning modality for the upcoming school year while only 3.3 million chose online learning.

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