Manila, Covid-19: 120 schools will reopen in attendance

Government spokesperson announces re-opening without specifying when the two-month pilot project will begin. Schools in the Philippines have been closed for a year and a half. Covid-19 cases have been steadily increasing since July.


Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Philippines will reopen 120 schools for the first time since the pandemic began. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced this yesterday, specifying that this is a pilot project that does not yet include full reopening because the number of students and in-person classes will be limited. 

"We have to pilot face-to-face (classes) because this is not just an issue for education, it's an issue for the children's mental health," he told reporters. "It's also an issue for the economy because we might lose a generation if we don't have face-to-face (classes)."

The trial will last two months and involve a hundred public schools considered to be at "minimal risk" for virus transmission. These will be joined by 20 private schools, but reopening will require approval from local governments and written permission from the parents of children who wish to attend classes.

The Department of Education has not reported when the project is expected to begin. Schools in the Philippines have been closed since March 2020, and in recent months there have been calls from Unicef and Filipino teachers to return to face-to-face teaching.

According to the latest OECD data, 15-year-olds in the Philippines are at the bottom of international rankings in text comprehension, math and science.

"If the pilot class is safe, if it is effective, then we will gradually increase it," said Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

There has been a steady increase in Covid-19 cases in the Philippines since mid-July. On September 9, the country reached a peak of 27,887 new infections in one day, while yesterday there were nearly 19,000 registered cases. Just over 17% of the population has completed the vaccination cycle. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Philippines has predominantly administered the Chinese vaccine Sinovac.