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UNICEF, business community back government’s plan to conduct face-to-face classes in January

Local and international non-profit organizations backed the government’s move to test face-to-face classes amid a quarantine to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a statement on Friday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines said it supported the efforts to conduct face-to-face classes next month in areas under modified general community quarantine but safety precautions should be in place to ensure the protection of the children.

“This includes implementation of a communication plan with schools and community members, continuous testing, use of masks, hygiene promotion and access to functioning water, sanitation and handwashing facilities, social distancing, transportation to and from school, disinfection and ventilation of classrooms, safe food preparation, proper waste disposal and prevention of stigma and discrimination, among others,” UNICEF Philippines said.

UNICEF also said that safeguarding measures for teachers should also be prioritized, adding that educators should be among the top priority beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccination drive the government will implement next year.

On the other hand, education advocacy group Philippine Business for Education also said they support the plan for limited face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.

“We need to be as deliberate in crafting clear plans to ensure that learning continues while our students are kept safe. Both can be done at the same time. We trust that our school administrators, teachers, and students have what it takes to follow health protocols set by the government,” said PBEd Executive Director Love Basillote in a statement.

The PBEd noted other Asian countries that reopened their schools amid the pandemic such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. 

Earlier this week, the Department of Education (DepEd) said it will conduct pilot classes in low-risk areas from January 11 to 23. It added over 1,000 schools have been nominated by DepEd regional directors to take part in the implementation. — Gillian M. Cortez

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