A Statement on the IATF Proposal for a Limited Reopening of Schools
As classes all over the world begin to reopen, the Philippines is one of the last remaining countries in Asia with zero face-to-face classes. As the IATF considers a limited reopening of schools, we must ask the question: Are we ready?
For the last two weeks under our country’s strictest lockdown protocol, there has not been a single day where reported cases did not breach 9,800. On August 23, the Philippines hit an all-time high of 18,000 cases with a 25% positivity rate – 1 in every 4 people tested.
All this while an urgent education crisis worsens. Many still cannot afford laptops, smartphones, and internet connections. Many poor families have become poorer and thus cannot afford to stay in school as tuition fees hike and additional costs linger. Most of all, many students and teachers remain unvaccinated and unprotected from COVID-19 amidst the presence of the more infectious Delta variant.
Classes should open, yes, but the necessary conditions to protect students, teachers, education staff, and their families have not yet been put in place.
The Take Up Space Movement believes there are three necessary preconditions to ensure the resumption of classes.
- Mass vaccination for the education sector;
- Subsidies for students’ and teachers’ Internet and electricity costs, as well as for gadget procurement;
- 3 Rs: Refunds for unused school fees, rejection of fee increases, and reduction of current fees;
- Retrofitting not only of classrooms but also other facilities where students converge such as laboratories, dormitories and nearby computer shops;
We demand policymakers to heed our calls and not rush the reopening of onsite classes, especially as we approach the opening of classes in public schools this coming September 13. If students are not protected and vaccinated; if they cannot afford to participate in hybrid learning; and if they cannot afford to continue studying because of the prohibitively expensive costs of education; then we are not ready to go back onsite.
By Take Up Space Movement
Reference: Jake Munoz, 0917 3004685