Sans direction, mass testing, lawmaker calls for deferment of school opening
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is calling for the postponement of the opening of classes until September or October this year —or once a “complete direction” is in place—as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong on Thursday said that even if online classes are possible, the country still faces issues and challenges such as internet speed and availability of resources for students.
Lack of testing is likewise a problem, said Ong.
“We are proposing the postponement of school year 2020-2021 kasi nga may COVID situation tayo (because we are facing the COVID situation) right now and again, we would like to [ask that] once it’s postponed, we can use this time for the [Department of Education] to somehow organize itself and have a more concrete and organized direction on what to do moving forward,” Ong told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
“Kasi syempre realidad naman wala pa tayong mass testing, with regard naman if we’re going to do online classes (The reality is we do not have mass testing and with regard to doing online classes), we don’t really have the infrastructure to do so especially for public schools—even for private schools,” the lawmaker added.
It would likewise be a burden for parents if they have to buy gadgets for their children just to support their children’s education, Ong said.
“The gadgets to be used is also a problem for most parents even for private schools kasi nga mabigat. What if you have two kids or three kids and you have to buy each one of them gadgets for that?” the lawmaker pointed out.
The Palace has said that enrolment of students in public schools will proceed on June 1.
The Department of Education scheduled a month-long enrolment period for students in public schools nationwide from June 1 to 30.
The opening of classes, whether physically or virtually, is set on August 24.
But Ong said “we cannot rush” the opening of classes especially with the lack of testings being done.
He cited cases in South Korea and France where a number of teachers contracted COVID-19.
“Alam naman natin ang realidad. Kapag nagbukas tayo ng eskwelahan na hindi tayo ready, baka tumaas lalo yung COVID natin e ang hirap dito, mga bata na ang pinag-uusapan natin. Kasi wala naman tayong testing e. Iilan lang ang na-tetest sa atin so how would we know?” Ong said.
(We know the reality. If we open classes and we are not ready, COVID-19 cases might spike and the problem here is, we are talking about children. Only a number of people have been tested so how would we know?)
“Tsaka yung mga bata aside from sila in danger, pag umuwi yung mga bata, pwede nila dahin ang virus sa magulang nia, sa lolo at lola nila. Ang hirap,” the lawmaker added.
(And aside from putting children in danger, once they return home from schools, they can transmit the virus to their parents and grandparents. It would be problematic.)
Further, Ong said that assistance should be extended to private school teachers since they are under “no school, no pay” setup.
“Ang magagawa natin diyan is with the help of parent communities and the private schools, pwede silang gumawa ng modules online na yung may internet pwedeng mag take ng mga refresher courses para may compensation ‘yung private school teachers and at the same time yung mga students naman na nasa bahay na may internet, mayroon silang mental exercise,” Ong said.
(With the help of parent communities and the private schools, teachers can prepare online modules so that students who have internet at home can take refresher courses so that teachers will still be compensated and at the same time, students who are at home and have internet access can have mental exercise.)
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