UN agencies, WHO cheer Philippine schools’ reopening

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UNITED NATIONS (UN) agencies and the World Health Organization (WHO) cheered and expressed support to the Philippines’ limited reopening of primary schools on Monday, the last country in the world to resume in-person classes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pilot in-person schooling is a positive step which provides an opportunity to learn how to manage and minimize the risk of infections in school settings,” the organizations said in a joint statement Monday.

The initiative highlights the importance of social development and continued learning in a child’s growth, it said.

The organizations — including the UNICEF and UNESCO — also noted the negative impact of prolonged school closures on the physical and mental health of the younger generation.

“We acknowledge that implementing in-person schooling in the context of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic poses many challenges and is not without risk. However, in the context of learning to live with endemic COVID-19, available evidence confirms that starting in-person classes as soon as possible brings greater benefits than risks,” they said.

The statement also underscored that the most vulnerable children, and those who are unable to access remote learning, are disproportionately impacted and are at risk of never returning to the classroom.

The Education department approved the reopening of an initial 100 public elementary schools across the country out of over 3,500, mostly those in more remote and low-risk areas. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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