Tolentino proposes partial 'face-to-face' classes in areas with minimal COVID infections

Senator Francis Tolentino has suggested "partial" face-to-face classes in areas with minimal cases of COVID-19.

Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino (Senate of the Philippine FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Tolentino said the government could consider this proposal as he cited the difficulties the Department of Education (DepEd) might encounter in implementing its learning continuity program for this year's school opening especially in far-flung communities.

"Napakalaking challenge talaga sa DepEd kung ano ang gagawin nila but I guess 'yung areas na mababa ang incidence ng COVID-19, eh baka pwedeng i-partial face-to-face na 'yun. I'm talking of island provinces, mababa , hybrid," he said in an online interview with reporters on Tuesday. (It is really a big challenge for the DepEd, whatever they intend to do, but I guess, for areas with low incidence of COVID-19 infections, maybe we could already allow partial face-to-face classes. I'm talking of island provinces, especially those with low number of cases)

Tolentino said the bill allowing the opening of the school year beyond August could also help the DepEd prepare better for the alternative learning modes amid the coronavirus outbreak. The bill has been enrolled for President Duterte's signature.

The DepEd set the opening of school year 2020-2021 to August 24, using blended learning methods such as online classes and the distribution of self-learning modules to students.

There would be no face-to-face classes as President Duterte himself rejected the resumption of physical classes until a vaccine against the coronavirus becomes available.

In his recent report to Congress, Duterte said the DepEd has started procuring Internet connection for public schools at P700 million. The project, however, is expected to be completed in 10 months.

DepEd officials told senators in an earlier Senate hearing that they hope to finish their preparations for distance learning, including teacher training and printing of the needed learning materials, before the August 24 school opening.

As of July 7, there were a total 47,873 COVID-19 cases in the country, with deaths reaching 1,309, and recoveries at 12,386.