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As pandemic restrictions ease, children in the Philippines can go back to school

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Millions of students in the Philippines went back to school on Monday for the first time in more than two...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Millions of students in the Philippines went back to school on Monday for the first time in more than two years. This happened because the country lifted most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions to try to make up for lost learning time.

Students in the Southeast Asian country waited in lines to get into their classrooms and attend flag-raising ceremonies in their schoolyards. This is because the government is getting rid of remote learning.



"We wanted face-to-face classes for two years, so we'll keep teaching even if there's a flood," said Mylene Ambrocio, a 37-year-old teacher, as she stood in ankle-deep water in a classroom in Pampanga province, north of the capital. "I'm glad to meet the kids in person."



There are still precautions in place, like checking the temperature and making people wear masks. There are also limits on how many students can be in each classroom.



Due to the pandemic, schools in this country were closed for one of the longest periods of time in the world. Their reopening was delayed by slow vaccine distribution and elections earlier this year.



In November, the education ministry tested in-person classes in almost 300 schools as part of a pilot program. However, it wasn't until this week, as the new school year began, that the program was expanded to all schools.



At the moment, the education ministry says that students have to go to school at least three days a week. It said that by November 2, all schools should have switched to having five days of in-person classes.



The switch to online classes, self-learning modules, and educational TV and radio shows has been very hard for the country of more than 110 million people, where less than a fifth of households have internet access and many don't have mobile devices.



Officials have stressed how important it is for the economy to grow in the long run for people to learn in person.



Economic Planning Arsenio Balisacan said earlier this month, "We are committed to working toward the country's full reopening, which includes the return of face-to-face schooling to make up for the learning lost and increase domestic activities."

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