Youth group urges gov’t for 2-week ‘academic health break’ in NCR

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BAMBAN, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 11: A woman tunes in to the local school radio on October 11, 2021 in the remote village of Burog, in Bamban, Tarlac province, Philippines. As students all over the world are returning to schools, millions of youths and children in the Philippines are staying at home for the second year in a row because of the pandemic, sparking fears of a deepening education crisis in a country where many lack access to computers or the internet. By the end of October, the Philippines will remain the only country in the world that has yet to resume face-to-face classes, after Venezuela announced that it will move to reopen schools on October 25. Education experts in the country have expressed concerns that the pandemic is putting a strain on the well-being and mental health of students struggling to learn under distance learning and isolation, as well as parents who are forced to serve as surrogate teachers for subjects they themselves may not have studied when they were in school. A recent survey conducted by multisectoral group Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality and Relevant Education (SEQuRE) found that most students said they
FILE PHOTO: A woman tunes in to the local school radio on October 11, 2021 in the remote village of Burog, in Bamban, Tarlac province, Philippines. As students all over the world are returning to schools, millions of youths and children in the Philippines are staying at home for the second year in a row because of the pandemic, sparking fears of a deepening education crisis in a country where many lack access to computers or the internet. (Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

As COVID-19 cases surge in light of the new Omicron variant, Kabataan Party-list, a youth sector group in Congress, called on the government to give students a two-week “academic health break” for students, parents, and teachers.

“Given the surge of COVID-19 cases that primarily affected Metro Manila and is quickly spreading to other regions, education has become more unbearable for students, parents and teachers alike,” they said. “Kabataan Party-list calls on public officials to implement a two-week academic health break for schools at all levels, public and private, in Metro Manila.”

Additionally, they called on the national government to “take initiative in studying and preparing for the imposition of similar breaks in other regions based on the current and projected health situation.”

With local governments imposing health breaks that last for only a week, the party-list recommended that the health break should last for another more, taking into consideration the calculations of experts.

“While we welcome the one-week health breaks declared by Manila and Pasay LGU's for all levels, as well as by DepEd NCR for public basic education institutions, we take note of calculations by experts that Omicron infection is about to peak by the end of January,” they said.

The party-list has been consistent in supporting academic health breaks to allow the ease of those in the education sector, especially after last year’s supertyphoon Odette.

“Even without a COVID-19 surge, youth groups alongside Kabataan Partylist have long been advocating for academic breaks and easing especially in the aftermath of supertyphoon Odette,” the party-list said.

Kabataan emphasized that a true academic break “should not result in additional requirements imposed during or after the break.”

“Breaks must consider the academic calendars of schools, especially higher education institutions that are about to end or have already ended their current semester.”

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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