Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing anew for the resumption of face-to-face classes in areas without community transmission of the coronavirus disease.
Robredo said the Department of Education (DepEd) should not apply a “one-size-fits-all” strategy because of the varying COVID-19 situation nationwide.
She stressed that the high community transmissions in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao are not the same in other parts of the country. In her home province of Camarines Sur, for example, Robredo said the coastal towns have no transmission.
“So, what I am saying, for those without transmission, maybe they can start face-to-face (classes). They don’t need to hold classes every day but several—once or twice a week, the student can go to class, follow-up with the teachers to make sure they are not being left behind. But there are many indecision,” she said in Filipino over dzXL.
The vice president lamented the “urong-sulong” (retreat-forward) approach on reopening classes in more than 600 local government units without recorded transmission of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Robredo has been pushing for the resumption of face-to-face classes since August or September last year.
She narrated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States released a study on the low possibility of transmission in classrooms because of the safety protocols that can be enforced there. Even areas with high community transmissions in the US are focusing on reopening schools.
“Magkaroon na ng pasok kasi iyon ang pinakamahalaga (Resume classes because that’s the most important),” Robredo said, citing that the US government provided funding for schools to equip them with what they need to prevent transmission once classes resume.
Online classes are difficult for children who cannot read yet, the vice president stressed, adding that the country has been lagging in global assessments. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study released last year showed that the Philippines ranked among the lowest in math and science assessments.
“I don’t know what’s taking our decision so long. We’ve been talking about this since last year,” Robredo said.
Even teachers, parents, and students, especially those in coastal communities without access to resources, wanted to resume face-to-face classes already.
“It’s already February and there’s still no decision. We should have been getting ready since last year so the students will not be out of school for a long time. The longer they are out of school, the more that they will get left behind,” she said.
While well-off families have the means and resources for virtual learning, it is those who rely on modules alone that the vice president is worried about.
The government is supposed to do a dry-run on select schools for the resumption of face-to-face classes. It is one of the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in line with its push for the safe reopening of the economy.