Press Release
March 2, 2021

Vaccine delay, resistance to test in-person classes may birth 'Generation Lost'

COVID's greatest damage may have been in incarcerating millions of children and sending the educational system to the ICU, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has warned.

These kids may end up as the "lost generation," Recto said, if the return to normalcy will be "slowed down by vaccine shortage, and if we fail to adjust to and invest in new learning modes."

Recto aired his concerns in his speech sponsoring the Senate resolution urging the Department of Education to test limited in-person classes in about 1,000 schools, saying that the results can be used "in designing how safely these can be done."

The larger picture is that the pandemic has hit hard a school system with "severe preexisting conditions," Recto said.

"Even before the first coronavirus-carrying bat flew out of a Wuhan tree, our country had already been lagging behind in many international tests that measure learning," he said.

And there are fears that this pandemic "will allow us to bag the last spot uncontested," Recto said.

If this pandemic will set us back two years in human resource development, then the delay will have an impact on the future of this country, Recto said.

While the vaccine remains the "greatest school pass", even giving it to many will not lead to an exodus back to classes.

"The virus is such a constantly mutating genius that even if our children and teachers have been vaccinated, the return to standing-room-only schools will not be immediate," he said.

"Kaya kailangan talaga ang resulta ng science experiment na ito para malaman kung paano ang pag-aaral sa new normal," he said.

Launching the trial classes under strict health measures is the way to mark on March 16 the anniversary of what is virtually the longest school vacation in history.

"We can mark it with more of the same, as captives of the pandemic, or we can launch a new way of learning, outside the confines of the one square foot of computer screen," he said.

They cannot be forever "marooned in congested houses crammed with three generations of families, of which many double as a home for the sick, in communities which are bandwidth deprived," Recto said.

Deprived of peer interaction and play, many kids have mental health issues, he said. "They may have evaded the virus, but many have caught a sickness as dangerous."

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