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Mayors reviewing policy on outdoor activities for kids

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Mayors reviewing policy on outdoor activities for kids
Kids stroll on a bike at Marikina Riverbanks on July 11, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — With reports of COVID-19’s highly transmissible Delta variant entering Metro Manila, mayors are taking a step back to discuss if the policy allowing children as young as five years old to venture outdoors should be put on hold.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos said the 17 mayors of the capital region will sit down to discuss the policy.

Abalos said the Metro Manila Council (MMC) would have to make decisions based on the guidance of health experts after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed two cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant were reported in Manila.

“Even if it is just one or two, if the threat is really real, considering how transmissible the Delta variant is, we would have to hear their (experts’) side,” he said.

“If it is really needed, I am sorry, but we have to do it. We might stop it
 (allowing kids outdoors),” he said.

The MMC meeting would also take up the capacities of various businesses as well as the mobility of people as part of being prepared against the threats posed by the Delta variant.

Abalos said the mayors would also hold briefings to monitor any rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and see whether these are clustered.

If the cases are clustered, granular lockdowns would have to be imposed to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

As he cited the need to balance government response to the Delta variant’s threat against economic repercussions, Abalos underscored the importance of vaccinating more citizens.

Outdoor activities for kids

Meanwhile, two city governments are raring to get children back to more engaging activities like regular schooling and sports now that they are allowed to go outdoors after more than a year in lockdown due to the pandemic.
Taguig City’s education office chief George Tizon said preparations are already underway for the possible resumption of face-to-face classes once it is allowed by the national government for the coming school year.

“We are awaiting that,” Tizon told reporters in Filipino at last Friday’s second online graduation rites for 174 students of the Senator Renato Cayetano Memorial Science and Technology High School.

“The President might allow blended learning... with physical learning in schools,” he added, noting that COVID-19 kits that include face masks and shields are already being prepared for inclusion in the school supplies package to be given free to students.

Interestingly, robots developed by the school’s robotics team were used to distribute and receive diplomas during the school’s graduation ceremony.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has set the reopening of classes on Sept. 13.

In Caloocan City, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) federation chief has asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to consider allowing youngsters to play sports once again.

In his letter, Councilor Orvince Howard Hernandez asked the DILG to provide guidance if children could be allowed to play games like basketball, volleyball and badminton in outdoor and indoor venues.

Hernandez stressed that sports could help children develop their physical and mental well-being and restore their social interactions which the lockdown has taken away from them.

Earlier, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allowed children as young as five to spend time outdoors but only in selected open spaces and provided they are accompanied by their parents. – Ghio Ong

CHILDREN MAYORS MMDA
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