Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier this week reported that a United Nations representative said that prohibition of face-to-face classes could be a human rights violation.
“I spoke to a United Nations representative who told me that it may be a violation of human rights to forbid face-to-face instruction especially among the young, who need social skills as much as intellectual and emotional connection,” Locsin wrote in a tweet.
The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also said that kids can no longer afford yet another year of school disruption. The effects have been devastating: children’s ability to read, write and do math has languished and they are not learning 21st century skills crucial to well-rounded development.
The number of out-of-school children is set to reach heights “we have not seen in years and have fought so hard to overcome”, said UNICEF director Henrietta Fore.
“As we enter the second year of the Covid19 pandemic, and as cases continue to soar around the world, no effort should be spared to keep schools open or prioritize them in reopening plans,” she said, adding that too many schools chose closure despite evidence that schools are not drivers of the pandemic.
Senate committee on basic education Sherwin Gatchalian has also urged the government to look at studies proving that evidence of in-person classes increasing community transmission was weak.
He cited a study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reported 11 schools districts in North Carolina with 90,000 students and staff opened for face-to-face classes. In nine weeks, only 32 were infected at school compared to the 773 community infections. There was also no student-to-staff transmission observed.
He added that in-person classes could be done if community transmission risk is lessened and minimum health protocols are adhered to.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew his approval for a dry run of in-person classes this year, in light of the new Covid19 variant cases recorded in the country.
The Commission on Higher Education meanwhile, is gearing up to shift back to face-to-face classes after Duterte gave it the go-ahead for schools offering medical and allied health programs in areas under general community quarantine.