In a press briefing at Malacañang Palace on 21 April 2020, the scientific findings by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team on age-group social interactions and its implications on flattening the so-called epidemic curve was presented. For everyone’s guidance on the matter, we are issuing this statement to clarify the following:
- The analysis conducted by our modeling group shows that the 0-19 years old age-group accounts for the greatest number of possible interactions which is about 56%. From one of our projections, eliminating the interaction of this group, which takes place primarily in schools, can substantially reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus. If unmitigated, this number can represent a substantial amount of transmissions if and when we lift the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine after April 30, 2020.
- The proposal to start the school year much later is under the assumption of a full contact (physical) setup. Even with the closure of school grounds, it does not mean we have to discontinue class delivery. Alternative and innovative approaches for continued learning are encouraged and should be explored and implemented.
- Ultimately, the decision when or how to reopen the schools should be nuanced with the actual situation on the ground. The decision to close schools, or for any action for that matter beyond April 30, is entirely an executive government matter. We only present the results of our models based on data for a science-based approach in the war against COVID-19, especially when we transition to the “new normal.”
- We presented on 20 April 2020 the results of our models and their corresponding meaning to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and several Cabinet Secretaries upon the invitation of the Office of the President. We do recognize that there are factors that need to be considered as there are consequences for any decision. But those will ultimately be decided upon by the concerned agencies, in particular the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Education (DepEd).
For everyone’s information.