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Local execs eye postponement of classes until January 2021, skipping a whole school year

/ 05:05 PM May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Some local government leaders on Thursday favored the deferment of the opening of physical classes so as not to compromise the health and safety of the students, with one proposing a postponement until January next year, while another suggested skipping a whole school year.

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During a Senate health committee hearing, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur mayor Chavit Singson, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), said the reopening classes in August should be studied carefully.

“Baka ma-compromise po sila. Importante po yung survival kaysa education. Aanhin mo yung education, mamamatay naman yung mga bata?” Singson said.

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(The students’ health may be compromised. Survival is more important than education. What will you do with education, if the students will die?)

“Pagaralan po mabuti… medyo delikado po ito (Reopening classes should be studied… this is a bit dangerous),” he added.

Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson

New Health Programs should Include Funding Support: Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson tells the Senate Committee on Health and Demography during Thursday’s, May 28, 2020, hybrid hearing that while he fully supports the proposed measures strengthening and modernizing the country’s health facilities and services, funding support is needed for them to be implemented effectively on the local level. (Screen grab/Senate PRIB)

For League of Provinces of the Philippines and Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco Jr., the scheduled resumption of classes may be risky.

“There is a proposal to start the classes on August 24. In my view po medyo maaga pa po yun sa tingin ko po na kahit marami na pong areas under GCQ (general community quarantine) o halos wala pong infected person sa kanya-kanyang probinsya. Dahil po sa pagpasok ng mga OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) at saka locally-stranded individuals, malaki pa rin po yung risk na meron pong malamang na pumasok so delikado pong buksan yan ng August,” Velasco said.

(There is a proposal to start the classes on August 24. In my view, this is too early even if more areas have been placed under GCQ or some provinces have little to no COVID-19 cases. As OFWs return as well as the locally-stranded individuals, the risk is of infection is high).

While he acknowledges the importance of education, the governor underscored the need to ensure that it is safe for students to come back to school.

“Baka bandang November or December or pwede na pong January. Kung merong required number of days e baka pwede na rin pong habulin sa bakasyon. So ang tinign ko po we should not start the classes until the LGUs (local government units) are sure na yung kanilang lugar po ay halos COVID-19 free na po sa infection,” Velasco added.

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(We can resume on November or December, or January. If there are required number of schools days, that can be carried over during their vacation. I think we should not start classes until LGUs ensure that their area is almost free from COVID-19 infection).

“Alam din po natin how important education is for our children and our students pero pwede naman pong i-delay yan hanggang January,” he added.

(We know how important education is for our children and our students but we can delay it until January).

Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) president Quirino Governor Dakila shared the same view as Singson and Velasco.

“A humble recommendation po, of course, to our decision makers baka po pwede pong max flexibility sa minimum days required sa school system at least for the year… Anyway, hindi naman sila forever na hindi mag-aaral. At most, half a year o baka one year po,” Cua said.

(A humble recommendation po, of course, to our decision makers that maybe we can have flexibility on the number of minimum days required in our scholl system at least for the year… Anyway, our children will not forever not physically go to school. At most, half a year or one year).

“I have to be honest na malaki pa po ang pangamba… Yung social distancing in schools na pinaguusapan, to be honest, kung sabihin nga ng teacher na ‘Keep quiet’ mahirap na patuparin sa mga elementary school. Can you expect that to happen for children to know na walang tapikan or hawakan ng kamay, walang playtime? Mahirap po talagang i-regulate. Baka po pwedeng mas maging praktikal tayo,” he added.

(I have to be honest that I’m really worried… When we’re talking about social distancing in school, to be honest, when teachers tell students to ‘Keep quiet’ it’s hard to follow. Can u expect that to happen for children to to know that no tapping or touching each others hands, or no playtime? It will be hard to regulate. Maybe we can be more practical).

DepEd earlier announced that the school year 2020 to 2021 will open, physically or through online, on August 24.

The department is eyeing the use of information communication technology platforms, television, and radio in delivering lessons to students during the pandemic.

But President Rodrigo Duterte opposed the resumption of “face-to-face” classes in August without a COVID-19 vaccine.

Senate health committee chair Senator Bong Go also said that physical classes should not be allowed to resume until a vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is available.

“Ayaw po nating maantala ang klase, ngunit prayoridad natin lagi ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga Pilipino. (We don’t want to disrupt classes but our priority now is the safety and health of Filipinos). We will take this one step at a time so that we can slowly, but surely, protect the safety of our students. ‘Wag natin biglain. Let’s assess first what happens in the coming days,” he said.

“For me, no vaccine, no physical classes or face-to-face learning,” he added.

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