End Lockdown of Children and Youth in The Philippines

End Lockdown of Children and Youth in The Philippines

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An Open Letter Regarding the Filipino Youth and COVID-19

We, as concerned parents and relatives of the youth, refer to the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines (or “Guidelines”) by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved on 29 April 2020, particularly Section 3 Guidelines For Areas Under General Community Quarantine.

[1] Which states that:

 “Any person below twenty-one (21) years old, those who are sixty (60) years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women, including any person who resides with the aforementioned, shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except when indispensible under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services or for work in permitted industries and offices.”

While it may be more convenient and easier to "lock-up children", from a Public Health, Societal and Economic point of view, it does not align with the objectives. There is agreement that solutions to this pandemic must be driven by data, not emotions, biases or politics. If we really believe this, then consider that on a data-driven analysis, it makes more sense to "Open Schools first". (source: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/04/30/when-easing-lockdowns-governments-should-open-schools-first)

June 5th, 2020 UPDATE: 

We are pleased to announce that our petition has been uploaded onto COVID CALL TO HUMANITY website.

It can be found here: http://covidcalltohumanity.org/overcome-the-fear-sign-petition-to-end-lockdowns-of-children-and-the-youth/ 

Joining forces means that we will now be receiving greater views & hopefully more signatories! We encourage you to visit the website via the above link to see other articles (over 2 dozen links!) that support the position that we have all taken for the youth of The Philippines. We hope that this will help you learn other related matters connected with the impact on society currently unfolding!

Population Affected

Persons below 21 years of age make up about forty percent (40%) of the approximately one hundred and ten (110) million Philippine population (source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/philippines-population/). Therefore, approximately forty-four (44) million are to be confined in their residences.

Of this figure, about Six (6) million are above the age of Majority but below 21 years old. They are legitimately working or are gainfully employed, if not engaged in their studies. They are Adults. Under the Constitution, there is no meaningful difference between one adult from another. If they can vote, sign contracts and even be conscripted to fight our country's wars, these adults should not be deprived the same treatment as other adults.

Confining the Youth Is Unnecessary and May Actually Prolong the Health Crisis

On a Public Health rationale, forcibly confining the age group of adults who are most likely to survive exposure to the virus does not serve the avowed purpose.  There is also no material difference in risk between a healthy person aged between 18 to 20 and a healthy person aged between 21 to 60. A strict implementation of a “stay home when sick” policy for all persons, including the youth, is only rational. 

Available data suggests that children and young people are the population group least affected by COVID-19. There are no current confirmed reported cases of death in persons younger than nine (9) years of age, and case fatality rate (rates for those sick enough to present to medical care/testing) is constant at 0.2% from age 10 up to age 39 (source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/). Symptomatic illness is rare and person-to-person transmission has not been detected in persons younger than 10 (source: https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-children-and-young-peoples-risk-from-covid-19/).

Even if they encounter COVID-19, the risk of infection is very low.  As with any illnesses, the risk of transmission is even further reduced when appropriate hygiene measures are adopted. 

Unlike their adult counterparts, in school children typically mix with the same group of people day-in-day out, minimizing overall contacts despite being active with their surroundings (source: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/policy_brief_on_covid_impact_on_children_16_april_2020.pdf). This will actually aid contact tracing.   Alternate class schedules and reduction of class size, as well as guidance on hygiene and other appropriate measures, is plausible to enable the reopening of schools.

Finally, confining this age group prolongs the health crisis. A UST Think Tank recommends that the low risk populations be enabled to develop herd immunity (through exposure and mostly asymptomatic recovery).  Children and youth being among the lowest risk groups could greatly enhance and facilitate this and thus contribute to protection of the greater population (source: https://varsitarian.net/sci-tech/20200426/ust-doctors-propose-herd-immunity-in-war-plan-vs-covid-19%e2%80%a8?fbclid=IwAR1EmaouL8LlClabD3BxlXy3Af6nw6t8R4IYUgaz3azQWpLlb_oDhsJF-VQ). Confine them and we lose the chance to gain this edge.

Socio-Economic Effects

The Guidelines would significantly decrease economic productivity and deprive the youth of their earning capacities, with those in the lower income bracket severely affected. The decrease in economic activity would further drive the increase of poverty.

Further, the guidelines overlook the reality that parents might be compelled to stay at home to care for and educate their children. Imagine the situation of Single parents alone. This means, these affected parents are deprived of their productive time to work and earn for their families, due to the pressure of ensuring that their children continuously learn.

Impact on Education

Unequipped to transition to home schooling, many of our youth do not live in environments conducive to study.  Poor families may not have access to home schooling materials, videoconferencing equipment, and Internet access. Whereas richer families may be able to provide the environment for home education, “no amount of helicopter parenting or videoconferencing can replace real-life teachers, or the social skills acquired in the playground” (source: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/04/30/when-easing-lockdowns-governments-should-open-schools-first).

The ability to learn in a supportive environment is critical to a child’s development. Interruption of education during their formative years may severely curtail their potential as they fail to learn new materials and forget what they already know.

OUR REQUESTS

On behalf of our youth and for the benefit of their future, we pray for your kind reconsideration of this policy, given these data and considerations that we have presented. 

We request that children and students be allowed to return to schools and universities, with the appropriate safeguards and monitoring, even while sporting and large events are curtailed at present.

We request that the productive working youth receive the same consideration as their older peers and be allowed to return to their usual work to enable them to contribute to and support their family and society.

Lastly, families of the youth should be allowed to use their discretion with regards to the decision to self-quarantine if their situation and conditions warrant it.

LATEST FROM PRESIDENT DUTERTE:

 A few days ago President Duterte shared his plans on using our children for experimental medical practices in order to be allowed back to school:

https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/6/1/Senate-approves-bill-move-classes-beyond-August-state-of-emergency-.html

Please help us share by signing or even chipping in for the price of a coffee to help spread the word even more.

We thank you for your attention,

Blessings to all!



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