Should the country succeed in controlling the spread of Covid19 and the acceleration of the vaccination program, face-to-face classes may well return by August.
Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said that the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Recover (PDITR) program must be strengthened even further to enable a shift to a more lenient quarantine classification.
“Eventually, less restrictions will allow mobility of children and the elderly, the resumption of physical classes, which we can possibly pilot test by August and stimulate more economic activities,” she said.
In line with this, socioeconomic planning secretary Karl Kendrick Chua repeated his suggestion to allow in-person classes in areas with the lowest risk for Covid19.
Previously, the education department eyed face-to-face classes in select areas earlier this year, but this was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte in light of emerging coronavirus variants.
Just last month, international lender World Bank recommended allowing face-to-face classes for students whose parents give consent after 1.6 million children did not enroll in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Distance learning, to which the country had had to adapt, posed challenges such as poor internet connection and lack of gadgets in poor households.
The World Bank said that distance learning had also increased the number of 10-year-olds who could not read or understand a simple story.
In 2019, pre-pandemic learning poverty was already at 69.5%.