SOME city elementary and secondary schools are prepared for the opening of face-to-face classes anytime next week. Even colleges and higher education institutions (HEIs) are set to open for non-medical classes after inspection and strict adherence to guidelines set by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
In Baguio, HEIs have to comply strictly with MPHS, retrofit their schools for air exchange in the academic setting; consult with the LGU, and adhere to guidelines set by the CHED. Extracurricular activities are subject to the approval of both CHED and the LGU. Records have to be set before final approval for face-to-face academics.
With the city at Alert Level 2 and restrictions easing up, students await the face-to-face set-up even with vaccination and minimum public health standards (MPHS) and protocols.
In a speech, Mayor Benjamin Magalong rued the huge financial and other losses due to the absence of face-to-face classes.
Studies have shown huge financial losses with students and parents using the internet and modules for classes – with less learning, lower future income productivity, and competitiveness, he said.
In a 2018 educational analysis by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Singapore scored 556, a 37 percent difference; and the US, 495, a 29 percent difference from the Philippine score of 350.
In a World Bank report, the results of long lockdowns show that 12 years of schooling are more or less equivalent to eight years of learning.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) quotes that 10 percent of permanent wages is lost every year due to school lockdowns. Pandemic and school closure exacerbate an already unequal and lower quality of education, the report also says.
A National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) survey shows that in 60 percent of families, a parent skips work to help a child with modules or online learning. Due to absence at work, twenty-five percent of income is lost. Due to lost income, there is the inability to provide gadgets for distance learning.
Studies show that there are forgone future wages and productivity over school closures; for teachers and personnel.
For US students, compared to face-to-face education, online learning is 52 percent effective and the use of modules as 37 percent effective.
Meanwhile, Baguio City and Benguet Province have begun the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11.
As of Wednesday, February 16, after three days of vaccinations, the two LGUs had vaccinated nearly 2,000 children combined.
Baguio had vaccinated some 1,508 children in the age range with the first dose of the COVID vaccines, while Benguet Province saw more than 300 children for its first round of jabs.
The numbers are still shy of initial expectations for Baguio, which saw at least 9,400 children register for vaccinations online through the city’s registration system.
The numbers for both Baguio and Benguet are also still far from their set targets. Baguio City has around 47,000 children in the targeted age range, while Benguet’s target for the same age range is around 60,000 children.
Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong allayed concerns about safety, especially in light of the ongoing petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the rollout of vaccines for children started by two parents in Quezon City, citing scientific backing for the decision.
“At the end of the day, science, and our medical practitioners and experts all over the world are saying it’s a very safe vaccine for our kids. In fact, my grandson in the US, he’s six years old, was vaccinated in December, and he will come home here for his second dose,” Magalong said.
Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas also appealed to parents to have their children vaccinated in preparation for the return of schools to face-to-face classes. Nearly 300 basic education schools in the province have registered for returning to face-to-face as of December of last year.
According to Diclas, the province has seen 1,227 children in the age group being hit by COVID-19 as of February 15 this year. – with reports by Julie G. Fianza