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Where are the experts?

House Education Committee chairman Rep. Roman Romulo recently addressed the issue of reopening of schools by saying it should not be left for politicians to decide but on a group of science and medical experts which he suggested the Department of Education to form.

Calls for the return of face-to-face classes have been surfacing after government has been touting developments on vaccine purchases even if it has yet to sign supply deals with pharmaceutical companies.

In a webinar with teachers, education experts and students, Rep. Romulo acknowledged that distance learning had been a struggle, but making the decision to reopen schools to physical classes should come with insights from the right people.

The difficulties in the new method of education and the pandemic still infecting more than a thousand in the country daily have split policymakers on whether to wait or push for the resumption of in-person learning. Senate members have questioned why most of the restrictions – including the allowing of cinemas and video game arcades – are now being relaxed when schools remain shut.

Government approved a pilot run on the resumption of physical classes in December 2020, only to be rescinded by President Duterte due to the threat of the more infectious variant of Covid-19.

The education department has yet to give updates on the resumption of classes.

Rep. Romulo’s suggested that the decision to resume classes be made by a group of people who are experts in their field is common sense that has become uncommon in this country’s pandemic response that has been inexplicably spearheaded by retired generals and politicos. The resulting strategies, policies and year-long failures to control the spread of Covid-19 and eventually revive the economy does not give confidence that science, medical, and economics experts are heavily involved, working quietly in the background.

One year into this failed experiment, shouldn’t it be time to change tack and rely more on experts in related fields to analyze the data, provide input and set the direction for the critical policy decisions that have to be made that will determine the fate of the Philippines in a part of the world still heavily affected by the pandemic?*

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