Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) have recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the suspension of classes until December 2020 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Representing the group of experts from UP, Mahar Lagmay said in a press briefing Tuesday, April 21, that based on their study 56% of the interactions among age groups happen among the 0-19 years of age. Lagmay added that this age group is most likely to interact with the elderly, who are considered to be vulnerable to the coronavirus disease.
"Kapag tayo ay walang klase hanggang December, at ito po ay nirerekomenda, ay malaki ang maibabawas natin sa transmission ng COVID-19 (Based on the model, if we don't have classes until December, and this is being recommended, there would be a huge reduction in the transmission of COVID-19)," Lagmay said.
Lagmay represented the UP Pandemic Response Team during Duterte's consultation with experts on Monday, April 20.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, however, said the President has not yet decided on the suspension of classes.
"Mayroon din na isang eksperto na nagsabi kagabi na kapag sinuspinde niyo ang klase ay wala ring mga medical students na mag-ga-graduate sa panahon na kailangan natin ng mga medical graduates," Roque said. (There was also one expert who said that if we suspend classes, there will be no medical students who will graduate at a time when we need them.)
On Tuesday morning, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they were eyeing August as class opening for school year 2020-2021.
Briones said that this was based on their consultations with government officials and other stakeholders. She also said that they would still consider the recommendation of the government task force against coronavirus on the opening of school.
In a statement on Wednesday, April 22, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that the department is looking into all considerations, including the proposal of the UP experts.
"We are looking closely at facts and evidence, including theirs. We hope the UP experts would not preempt this decision without even checking with the department," Malaluan said.
The entire Luzon region and some parts of the Philippines remain on lockdown until April 30.
Roque said the President has not decided yet on whether to ease or extend the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown in Luzon. (READ: Luzon-wide lockdown after April 30 not needed, health experts tell Duterte)
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has registered 6,599 cases of the coronavirus, with 437 deaths and 654 recoveries. – Rappler.com