Re-electionist Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for all schools to conduct limited face-to-face classes. He said this would contribute to increased economic activity especially if more parents would be able to return to work.
There are 48 areas, including Metro Manila, that shifted to Alert Level 1, the least stringent of COVID-19 restrictions. According to the Department of Education (DepEd), there are 6,122 schools that started limited face-to-face classes as of March 10.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) earlier said that expanding in-person classes would add P12 billion weekly to the economy as more services and businesses resume such as transport, dormitories, food stalls, and sale of school materials. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said, however, that there will be limited impact on jobs if adults had to stay at home to help their children study.
A 2020 study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that since at least one adult had to supervise a student for home-based learning, 11% of the workforce had to stop working. This costs the economy P225 billion for one school year.
“Sa gitna ng patuloy na pagbuti ng ating sitwasyon, hindi na rin natin dapat patagalin pa ang pagbubukas ng lahat ng mga paaralan. Para sa mga magulang na halos dalawang taong tinutukan ang kanilang mga anak sa distance learning, pagkakataon na ito upang makapag-hanapbuhay muli,” said Gatchalian.
School shutdowns have been blamed for a rise in dropout rates and decreased literacy. The World Bank estimates that learning poverty—the share of 10-year-old children who cannot read or understand a simple story—is at 90% in the Philippines, a figure that will likely worsen because of COVID-19 school closures.