Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, today reiterated his stand not to allow face-to-face classes as much as possible as the start of the school year draws while the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to hit the country.
“Let me reiterate po: No vaccine, no face-to-face as much as possible. Importante makapag-aral pa rin ang mga bata sa paraan na hindi sila mapipilitang ma-expose sa sakit,” Go said. (What is important is that our children learn without being exposed to COVID-19).)
Go urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to pursue other modes of conducting classes that can still comply with health and safety protocols, such as social distancing.
“Ayaw kong mapunta sa bata ang burden. Ayaw ko ma-pressure ang estudyante na pumasok sa eskwela tapos may banta naman sa kanilang kalusugan. Kaya binigyan ang DepEd ng option to recommend na ipagpaliban muna ang opening upang masiguro nila na maipapagpatuloy ang edukasyon sa paraan na ligtas,” he mentioned. (I don’t want the burden to be passed on to the children. I don’t want to pressure the students to go to school because there is a threat to their health. That is why we gave the option to th DepEd to recommend whether to defer the opening of school classes in way that the students would continue their education in a safe way.)
He also asked schools and education officials to guide students as they adjust to new modes of learning.
Go said that since many students are poor and could not afford to have laptops or access to internet, they should be given access to a learning continuity plan.
The senator from Davao stressed that the difficulties of adjusting to new modes of learning compounded with the health risks of the environment that might affect the students’ mental and emotional conditions and adversely affect their ability to learn.
“Basta matuto ang lahat ng estudyante pero sana walang bagsak dahil mahihirapan pa po ang estudyante na mag-adjust sa makabago at iba’t ibang paraan ng pag-aaral. Health pa rin ang important. Sa kagustuhan nating makapag-aral ang mga bata, inuuna pa rin natin palagi ang interes, kapakanan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he emphasized. (All students should learn but should not have failing grades because students would be having a hard time adjusting to new modes of instructions. Health is still important. While we want the students to learn, we should prioritize the interests, welfare and lives of all Filipinos.)
Go urged authorities to take the current situation ‘one step at a time’ to protect the safety of students.
“Let’s assess first what happens in the coming days. Kahit ayaw nating maantala ang klase nila, importanteng safe sila,” Go said. (While we don’t want that the school year is wasted, it is important that they are safe.)’’
Go echoed the sentiments of President Duterte that while he trusts the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases IATF-EID) and DepEd’s recommendation to allow face-to-face classes on a limited basis, this should only be done when all risks of exposure to sickness are eliminated.
“Kaya nga po sinabi ng Pangulo na ‘no vaccine no face-to-face classes’ kasi ayaw niyang mailagay sa peligro ang mga kabataan,” Go stressed. (That is why the President espouses the policy of ‘no vaccine, no face-to-face classes’ because he does not want to put the lives our young at risk.)
Earlier, Go commended the signing of Republic Act 11480, amending Section 3 of RA 7797, known as “An Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred (200) Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty (220) Class Days”.
The amendment grants the President of the Philippines power to set a different date, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, of the opening of a school year in the event a state of emergency is declared. The deferred school opening is applied to all basic education schools, including foreign and international schools, throughout the country or parts of it.
Go said he has also consistently urged the DepEd to lay down an action plan to address concerns of Filipinos in preparation for the upcoming school year. He also reminded concerned agencies to work together to provide for alternative, remote learning methods that can ensure education access even for students who have no internet connection.