MANILA — Students and school personnel should be vaccinated against COVID-19 before allowing the resumption of in-person classes, a group of private school administrators said Thursday.
Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA) President Eleazardo Kasilag said students should get inoculated against the respiratory illness before returning to schools for face-to-face classes, arguing that the country's COVID-19 situation "is very unstable" now.
"I say until the entire population in the basic education has been vaccinated up to herd community state, do not open schools," said Kasilag.
"Learning from home is the only best alternative at this time," he added.
Kasilag said he doubted if parents would even let their kids return to school if in-person classes were allowed.
The group was reacting to a statement made Wednesday by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which called for the "phased reopening" of Philippine schools, beginning in low-risk areas.
UNICEF said the Philippines is among only 5 countries in the world that have not resumed in-person classes since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, affecting more than 27 million Filipino students.
Because of the school closures, students have been learning from their homes through printed and digital modules, online classes, and education programs aired over TV and radio. Many, however, have complained of difficulties under the distance learning setup.
In its statement, UNICEF called on governments to implement programs "to bring all children and youth back in school where they can access tailored services to meet their learning, health, psychosocial well-being, and other needs."
It also called for support for teachers "to address learning losses and incorporate digital technology into their teaching."
Another group, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines, earlier asked policymakers to subject private schools to separate parameters in determining if they could resume in-person classes.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly rejected the DepEd's proposal for a dry run of limited in-person classes in low-risk areas over concerns of more infectious COVID-19 variants.
The Philippine government has yet to include teens and children in its COVID-19 vaccination program due to supply issues but has approved the use of Pfizer's vaccines for minors.