Angara: Pilot tests for face-to-face classes needed before nationwide resumption

Published February 28, 2021, 4:30 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

With two brands of COVID-19 vaccines ready for roll out in the Philippines, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said the Department of Education (DepEd) should consider conducting pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in areas with very few or zero cases of COVID-19 to see how it would work.

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)
(Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin File photo)

Angara said that while he supports calls for the resumption of face-to-face classes, it is imperative for the government to conduct pilot testing first but only in areas where physical distancing and efficient health protocols can be strictly observed.

Should DepEd pursue the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes, Angara said these should also be done in areas that have strong health systems so they are able to handle possible outbreaks in case there is a “super spreader” event.

The local government unit (LGUs) that would be part of the pilot testing should also be ready with health facilities such as hospitals that are capable of handling a large number of cases—from isolation to treatment.

 “If DepEd decides to roll out face-to-face classes, this must be done very, very carefully and only with limited number of participants and in under very controlled conditions first,” Angara said in a statement.

A COVID-19 survivor himself, the senator noted there have been reported cases in other classes where face-to-face classes served as “super spreader” events.

“We badly want to resume face-to-face classes but be that as it may, the President has spoken that until there is no vaccine, we cannot start with face-to-face classes nationwide,” he pointed out.

Angara said it is inevitable for children to avoid having close interactions with each other especially in an indoor setting.

So a handful of infected students could easily spread the virus to other children and they in turn, could infect other persons within their household and their community, the lawmaker pointed out.

“But if ever we do decide, before going on a nationwide rollout of face-to-face classes, let’s choose one or two provinces for the pilot testing,” he reiterated.