Senators want limited face-to-face classes to start

PHILSTAR

SEVEN senators on Monday filed a resolution asking the government to start the pilot tests for face-to-face classes in more than a thousand public schools amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The senators said the prolonged school closures have affected students especially those from poor families.

They said the trial run in 1,065 schools in low-risk areas identified by the Education department should start “to avert a prolonged learning loss and minimize other potentially profound adverse social, developmental and health costs.”

Senators Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Francis N. Pangilinan, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Pia S. Cayetano, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva and Juan Edgardo M. Angara signed the resolution.

They said 433 municipalities and three cities have no active coronavirus cases as of Feb. 9. Feeding programs should also be resumed and ease the effects of the pandemic on poor students and their families, they added.

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The government should also prioritize teachers for vaccination to lessen the risk of transmissions in schools, the lawmakers said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte this week rejected a plan to hold limited face-to-face classes pending the rollout of vaccines. In December, he recalled a similar proposal set for January.

“Keeping Filipino learners up to par with international standards of academic achievement and personal development would require the gradual reimplementation of face-to-face classes in relatively low-risk COVID areas pursuant to stringent public health, hygiene and sanitary policies and protocols,” Mr. Gatchalian said in his sponsorship speech on Monday.

Mr. Pangilinan said schools have to be prepared before the mass opening of classes in August.

“We need to gain experience-based knowledge on how to effectively and safely reopen our schools,” he said in his co-sponsorship speech. The number of pilot schools may be lowered if the government is concerned about safety, he added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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