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After homeschooling for more than 18 months, schools have re-opened in the island nation of the Philippines.

Thousands of children descended upon the 120 schools that opened for their first on-site lessons on Monday morning as part of the government’s pilot project.

The Guardian reports that students, who wore face masks and face shields, sat at desks that were partially covered by plastic windows. To reduce mixing, children are required to eat lunch at their desks and are only allowed to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom.

Unicef compiled a report in September where it identified six countries where schools have remained almost completely closed between March 2020 and 30 July 2021. These six countries are the Philippines, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Panama.

Out of these six countries identified, the Philippines is the very last to begin resuming in-person teaching. That’s because in June 2020 President Rodgrigo Duterte made it clear that in-person classes will only return once there is a vaccine available for the country.

Not only were children in the Philippines forced not to go to school, but they were also not allowed to play outside or in public spaces, or go to indoor restaurants, shops and arcades.

So far, roughly about a third of the population has been vaccinated fully.

Image credit: Rappler

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