DepEd urged to take advantage of class postponement to assess situation

Following the postponement of the opening of classes to Oct. 5, Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro urged Sunday the Department of Education (DepEd) to take advantage of the 50-day respite to assess the situation per region and consider allowing traditional face-to-face classes in areas with zero cases of COVID-19.

Friday, March 13, marked the last day of school for students in Iloilo City after the local government is suspending classes on March 16-31, 2020. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin File photo)

“In these two months, (dapat) ma-aasess ang kalagayan ng bawat region at bawat lugar (The situation per region and each area should be assessed). Kung may lugar na very low risk  (If there are areas that are very low risk) ay payagan na ang (the DepEd should allow the) face-to-face at a limited number number of students and maximum heath protocol,” she told the DZBB in an interview. 

She cited that a resolution, which seeks the conduct of traditional face-to-face classes in Batanes, recently gained the approval of the House Committee on Basic Education. 

Principally authored by Batanes  Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr., House Resolution (HR) No.1057 urges President Duterte, through the Inter-Agency Task Force  for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and DepEd, to allow the conduct of traditional classes in Batanes, which remains low risk and COVID-free.

“Katulad ng NCR (Like in National Capital Region), dapat totally walang face-to-face (totally, there should be no face-to-face), pero may lugar tayo na puwedeng ganun (but there are areas that can have that). ‘Yun ang mga kailangan natin na paghandaan (That’s what we need to prepare), ang (the health (measures). Kumustahin natin ang mga eskwelahan (We will look into the condition of the schools), meron bang (do they have) washing facilities , 'yung mga (do they have) toilet,  'yung mga (or) disinfectants. ‘Yun ang mahalaga ngayon na dapat paghandaan (That’s essential right now that we have to prepare), within these two months na pinostpone ang reopening (ng klase) (that the opening of classes has been postponed),” Castro pointed out. 

The Makabayan lawmaker said she is counting on the DepEd to use this time to implement health and safety guidelines for teachers, non-teaching personnel, students and their families, and fully equip the teachers in implementing its blended learning program.

She insisted that the DepEd should allocate funds for the provision of gadgets and Internet allowance for the teachers. 

“Magamit sana ng Department ng Education para lalong mapaghandaan itong reopening ng klase (I hope this time will be used by the Department of Education to further prepare for the reopening of classes). I hope na last na ito na maiiusog natin ang klase (that this will be the last time that the classes will be postponed). Kung talagang nakapaghanda lang (if preparations had been made) , sana  nabigyan ng budget lalong lalo na sa mga gadgets ng ating teachers (there should have been budget, especially for the gadgets of the teachers),” Castro said.

"Buti pa ang  private schools ngayon, nakapagbukas na sila ng klase nila (The private schools already opened their classes)   kasi meron silang gadgets (because they have gadgets), meron  silang  materials (They have materials) na kaya ng mga ilang mga magulang (which some parents can readily provide) . Samantalang ‘yung 22 million na mga mag-aaral (While, the 22 million public school students)  mag aantay sa kahandaan ng DepEd (have to wait for the readiness of DepEd),  kahandaan ng materials (the readiness of the materials), at duon sa pagtugon sa health ng mga teachers (and to the government’s response on how to ensure the health of the teachers),” she added. 

Castro said she is expecting the government to address the “very poor” and weak Internet connection, the apparent lack of learning modules in some regions, and lack of transportation for public teachers. 

She said the 22 million public school students should not be deprived of their long-overdue right to quality but safe education amid the pandemic. 

"Health and quality of education must not be sacrificed just for the sake of reopening the school year. The Department of Education must use this time to comprehensively study and implement concrete plans for the safe and quality reopening of schools that will be accessible by every child,” she said.