Group urges gov’t to start preps for limited face-to-face classes in MGCQ areas

Published May 28, 2021, 4:41 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A multi-sectoral network that advocates for learning continuity amid calamities and disasters called on the government to prepare for the resumption of limited face-to-face classes in schools located in Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) areas.

Students attend face-to-face classes before schools were shut down due to the pandemic (RIO DELUVIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Aral Pilipinas issued this call on Friday, May 28 – less than three months away before the proposed opening of school year (SY) 2021-2022.

“We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the postponed conduct of limited face-to-face classes and safely reopen schools in areas under the MGCQ classification,” Aral Pilipinas said.

The Department of Education (DepEd), in April, said that among the recommended dates for the opening of the upcoming school year is on Aug. 23 amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country. However, the agency was quick to add that the final decision is still up to the President and that various options were prepared for him to choose from.

“Our efforts are too focused on areas under stricter quarantine classification levels, and municipalities with zero to low COVID-19 cases seem to be getting the tail end of attention in our quest to put the education system back on track,” said Aral Pilipinas Lead Convenor Regina Sibal.

Since last year, DepEd has been pushing for the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes but it was postponed twice as new coronavirus variants spread in the country.

Recognizing the need to resume in-person learning, Aral Pilipinas has collaborated with partners in the government and civil society in drafting a framework that “ensures the health and safety of learners and teachers when they return to schools.”

Meanwhile, Aral Pilipinas also expressed support for the call of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian to resume in-person classes in municipalities with zero to low COVID-19 cases.

The group also lauded his “unrelenting push of this agenda for months now.” Gatchalian, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has also been pushing for the inclusion of teenagers and students in the vaccination program.

As more adults in the general population get vaccinated, he noted that the move will boost confidence in safely reopening schools over a year after these were shut due to the pandemic.