The Department of Education must brace for a prolonged distance learning in 2022 since the vaccines for COVID-19 for children below 16 may not be available until the summer of 2022, according to Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor.“There is a high probability that we won’t have extensive face-to-face classes in the school year 2021-2022 considering that the vaccine clinical trials abroad on younger children are just getting started,” he said.
Defensor is the vice chairperson of the House committee on welfare of children.
“Vaccine developers overseas are still trying to assess the safety of their shots on three age groups of children. They are also trying to ascertain the appropriate dosage for each age group,” he said.
“While some clinical trials on children aged 12 to 15 years old are underway, the trials on those aged 5 to 11 years old are just kicking off. Trials on children under 5 years old will be the last to be carried out.”
World Health Organization experts have maintained that while children and adolescents tend to be less susceptible to severe COVID-19, they may spread the highly contagious respiratory disease to older and more vulnerable people including teachers, parents and grandparents.
“We would urge schools to improve and expand their delivery of online learning as well as modular and TV/radio-based instruction, with a view to preventing more dropouts and enrolling more students in the transition to the next school year,” Defensor said.
“In fact, with the help of barangay officials, DepEd should identify those students who previously dropped out and then encourage them to enroll next school year.”