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Philippines to launch pilot plan to resume face-to-face learning By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Annie Sabino, 16, a grade 9 student, completes her school work next to her dog, while tending to her family’s sidewalk eatery beside their home, as schools remain closed during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, Philippine

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas deemed low risk for COVID-19, with up to 120 schools to join a two-month pilot reopening run, his education minister said on Monday.

The Philippines is among 17 countries globally where schools have been closed for the entirety of the pandemic, according to a report last week by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, highlighting what it called “18 months of lost learning”.

According to UNICEF, there are 39 countries in which schools remain partially closed as of March.

Duterte has held off on reopening schools, sticking to a vow to keep them shut until a vaccine was available, warning that doing otherwise “spells disaster”. It has suffered one of Asia’s most devastating COVID-19 pandemics.

Leonor Briones, Education Secretary said that face-to-face education will only be allowed for 3-4 hours each session with parental consent.

This pilot will be available in 100 public schools as well as 20 private institutions. It limits class sizes to twelve learners for kindergarten, sixteen in the grades 1-3 and twenty at the senior high school level.

She stated in a briefing that “if there are any changes in the risk evaluation, we will stop it.”

She said that the pilot would begin in due time, depending on schools’ readiness.

Briones reported that online learners in last week’s school year increased to 28million, compared with 26 million in last year.

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