Business, civic groups back opening of schools on Aug. 24

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    SEVEN business and civic groups have expressed strong support to the opening of the school year on August 24 as recommended by the Department of Education (DepEd) but stressed that appropriate public health and safety standards should be in place.

    The groups said the country cannot afford the high costs of prolonged school closures to Filipino children, the economy and society.

    A joint statement released yesterday by the Philippine Business for Education, Makati Business Club, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund , Philippine Normal University, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Action for Economic Reforms and Knowledge Channel Foundation indicated their support for blended learning options that involve face-to-face interactions in low-risk areas following health and safety measures, as enshrined in the multi-stakeholder-developed Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan.

    “There are public health risks associated with reopening schools. But if planned and resourced well, we can safely manage those risks and ensure that we do not erase the almost universal access to basic education that the Philippines has achieved before COVID-19,” the groups said.

    “Children’s right to education must be protected. We affirm the global belief that schools are not only places of learning. They provide social protection, nutrition, health, and emotional support that are a life security for disadvantaged learners. Education is an essential strategy to reopen the economy. The sooner we bring back the Filipino youth to school, the sooner we can start rebuilding for a stronger Philippines, post-pandemic,” they added.

    The groups also said face-to-face teaching and learning should be implemented, especially in poor communities and in areas with very low or zero cases of COVID-19.

    “We are one with DepEd in exhausting all means to guarantee the safe and continued learning for all Filipino children by August 24. We enjoin local government units to ensure the safe reopening of schools. The earlier most schools can reopen the better; the less risk of long-term damage to the learning journeys and well-being of millions of Filipino children,” the groups said.