Youth group demands two-week academic 'health break'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — The Kabataan Party-list is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to implement a two-week academic "health break" in areas under Alert Level 3 or higher.

While several local government units have already declared a "health break," subsequently suspending classes in their areas amid rising COVID cases, the Kabataan Party-list wants the national government to formally issue the order.

"The Omicron variant will surely make its way into more cities and provinces to cause surges in COVID-19 cases. This will affect the ability of students and teachers to continue with education which has already been difficult under Duterte's anti-poor distance learning program," the group said in a statement Saturday.

"In this light, Kabataan Party-list calls on President Duterte and the IATF to declare a two-week academic health break at all levels, public and private, in areas under Alert Level 3 or higher as may be designated by IATF in the coming days," it added.

READ: LIST: Class suspensions, adjustments amid COVID-19 surge

The proposal came after the party-list group, together with the National Union of Students of the Philippines and the Rise for Education Alliance, held nationwide online consultations to assess the needs of students following the devastation of Typhoon Odette and the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.

During the consultations, Kabataan Party-list said students aired their problems on the current learning system, worsened by the lack of electricity and water supply, especially in areas ravaged by the deadly typhoon.

Given the situation, the group said the government must "institutionalize the easing of academic requirements, and to distribute emergency student aid."

Some nursing students from different schools also expressed worries about the possibility that limited in-person classes may fail to start "because of lack of logistical preparations and clear cut policies to confront a COVID surge," it added.

The Kabataan Party-list said it will file resolutions at the House of Representatives and send formal letters to Duterte, the pandemic response task force, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Department of Education.