No luxury of time: Senators press for face-to-face classes dry run
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators have pushed for the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes, citing the need to gain experience and lessons for when the government finally allows resumption of physical classes in schools in the future.
“We need the experience now, we need the lessons drawn now because we don’t have the luxury of time,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said during Wednesday’s Senate basic education committee hearing.
The senator proposed that the Department of Education (DepEd) reduce the number of schools chosen for the dry run of face-to-face classes.
DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told senators they chose 1,065 schools, or five per school division, to participate in the face-to-face classes pilot run.
This number is equivalent to only over two percent of the more than 47,000 public schools in the country, he noted.
DepEd earlier proposed the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes scheduled last month. President Rodrigo Duterte gave his green light to the proposal but he recalled his approval due to the threat of the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
“Kung mayroong UK variant at natatakot doon sa pagkalat, eh di bawasan natin ang pilot areas, gawin nating isang daan muna,” Pangilinan went on.
“Ang importante, mayroon tayong pagkukunan ng karanasan ngayon pa lang at hindi iyong pagdating doon sa dulo saka natin gagawin dahil nakaangkla tayo sa isang libo,” he added.
Education panel chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also expressed support for the conduct of a pilot test for face-to-face classes.
“I’d like to support and push for the comments of Sen. Pangilinan on the pilot schools. ‘Di naman po ibig sabihin na kinancel yung face-to-face, titigil na rin tayo sa pilot schools. This is a good way for our scientists to study what can be done to mitigate the effects of Covid,” Gatchalian said.
Senator Pia Cayetano likewise agreed with the Pangilinan’s proposal to reduce Deped’s initial number of pilot schools for faster results.
“We’ve been discussing the reopening (of classes) since April, since May. So for the life of me, I cannot understand why we cannot roll out a pilot now? We’ve been discussing this for months and what has changed? We saw the surge, it went down a little bit, we saw the surge again. Alam na natin ito.” she said.
“Hopefully, God willing, it can get better with the vaccine and with more information. So, baka pwedeng mabalik natin kay Usec. Malaluan na if the President allows, can you roll out the pilot-testing next week? I agree [that we] do it slowly, because if you do 100 schools next week, with permission of course, in one week’s time, you can look at it naman, sumusunod ba ang mga bata?” she said.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones earlier made a fresh bid to reopen schools and allow in-person classes because most learners, who have been cooped up for too long during the year-round lockdown, have been missing physical schooling and learning in an actual school.
But Duterte thumbed down DepEd’s new push earlier this week.
Duterte, however, allowed last month the resumption of limited face-to-face classes for medical and allied health programs in institutions located in general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas.
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