Senate calls for immediate pilot test of face-to-face classes

Published March 2, 2021, 11:00 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate is officially recommending to the government the resumption of face-to-face classes by starting with its “localized, limited” pilot implementation in low-risk areas of the Philippines.

Senators adopted on Tuesday night the substitute resolution which expresses the Upper Chamber’s appeal to allow the conduct of in-person classes “through the immediate launch of the pilot testing of localized limited face-to-face classes” in areas identified by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The measure also maintains that the initial rollout should be based on risk-based assessment and should strictly follow health protocols and guidelines  set by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Infectious Diseases.

The move, they said, would allow the DepEd to study and design a framework for safe reopening of schools in the country.

Several senators have earlier expressed concern over the effects of the prolonged closure of schools and suspension of face-to-face classes to the learning and quality of Filipino pupils and students. They cited challenges and limitations in the blended and distance learning modalities currently being implemented by the government during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

They also noted that age restrictions, on the contrary, have already been eased for economic considerations.

During a hearing of the Senate basic education committee last February 24, Deped told senators that they aim to test the holding of face-to-face classes in 1,065 schools within areas that are low-risk for coronavirus infections.

Following proposals from senators, the DepEd expressed openness to reduce their target to convince the IATF and President Duterte to allow the pilot implementation.

Duterte has previously deferred the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes due to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variants in the country and pending the rollout of the vaccination program.