Robredo pushes anew for face-to-face classes in Covid transmission-free areas
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has again urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to allow the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas without Covid-19 transmissions.
Robredo explained in her Sunday radio program at DZXL that the DepEd must not use a “one-size-fits-all” strategy because the situation in Metro Manila and other hubs like Cebu and Davao — considered as epicenters of the Covid-19 outbreak — are not similar to other parts of the country.
“Iyong sitwasyon sa Metro Manila, sa Cebu, sa Davao, hindi naman iyon iyong sitwasyon sa buong Pilipinas. So iyong sa akin, dito na lang sa Camarines Sur, marami kaming mga coastal towns na wala namang transmission na ano ba naman iyong papasukin iyong mga bata kahit once or twice a week,” she said.
(The situation in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao is not that of the whole country. So for me, just here in Camarines Sur, several coastal towns have not registered any transmission, so why not let the students go to classes even once or twice a week.)
“Sana hindi one size fits all nga iyong pagdesisyon,” she added.
(I hope they would not use a one size fits all approach in deciding.)
The Vice President stressed that she has been making the same suggestions as early as August and September 2020, because over 600 local governments do not have any coronavirus transmissions that would require stay-at-home policies.
She further noted that face-to-face classes will help students catch up with their lessons, especially as not all households can provide adequate gadgets and a stable internet connection — which are needed for online classes and blended learning schemes.
“So ang sinasabi ko lang, doon sa mga walang transmission, baka puwedeng umpisahan iyong face-to-face. Hindi naman kailangan araw-araw mag-klase,” Robredo said.
(So what I am saying is, for areas without transmissions, maybe we can start face-to-face classes. We don’t need to have everyday classes.)
“Mabuti iyong may mga kaya, mabuti iyong may mga gadgets kasi kahit hindi pumapasok, patuloy iyong pag-aaral. Pero […] iyong mga walang wala na umaasa sa modules na sarili nila ang pag-answer ng modules, hindi naman equipped iyong mga magulang para tumulong, obviously iyong mga magulang na nakakatulong, pero magulang na mismo nagsabi na hirap na hirap sila,” she added.
(It’s good for wealthy families, for those who have gadgets as they do not need to go to classes physically just to continue schooling. But for those without any, those who rely on modules that they themselves answer — especially if their parents are not equipped to answer even if they are a big help — parents say they are already struggling.)
Recently, there have calls from the DepEd on the possible resumption of face-to-face classes for senior high schools, as students and parents want to start physical classes already.
But various groups have dismissed such calls, stressing that not all schools are equipped with facilities like clean restrooms, wash areas, and clinics that would ensure the implementation of health protocols.
Robredo’s statements echoed the DepEd’s sentiments — that teachers, students, and parents have been calling for the resumption of classes. Robredo however asks why the decision process is taking a long time.
According to Robredo, the national government can use funds for schools to repair their facilities and have structures that will ensure safe learning for students — which at the same time will address the demands of student groups.
“Iyong mga teachers mismo at saka mga estudyante at saka mga magulang, gusto na mag-face-to-face. Bakit—hindi ko alam kung ano iyong nakakatagal. Eh ngayon ano na, patapos na iyong February wala pa ring desisyon,” Robredo said.
(The teachers themselves, and the students and parents want a face-to-face class. Why it’s taking this long to decide, I don’t know. We are nearing the end of February but we still do not have any decision.)
“Iyong indecision, iyong pag-urong-sulong, ang daming maaapektuhan negatively. Ang dami nating mga bata na hindi nakakabasa. Sa lahat ng mga tests, halos lahat nasa dulo tayo. Eh dapat sana inaasikaso natin ito,” she added.
(This indecision, this hesitancy, is affecting a lot of people negatively. A lot of students cannot read well. We have been lagging in several tests. We should have addressed this issue first.)
Since the pandemic started, Robredo has pitched several suggestions to the DepEd, such as the establishment of community learning hubs where students doing online classes or modular activities can visit, process their requirements, and get tutorials on difficult subjects.
However, the suggestion to have learning hubs was also met with controversy after the DepEd distanced itself from the suggestion.
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