Gatchalian: Vaccinate minors to boost confidence on safe school opening

Published August 27, 2021, 10:22 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian on Friday, August 27 reiterated the urgency of vaccinating minors, especially those aged 12-17, to ensure the safe reopening of schools and boost confidence when face-to-face classes resume.

According to a Pulse Asia Survey commissioned by Gatchalian, which was conducted from June 7-16 with 1,200 respondents nationwide, parents or guardians with children in basic education cited the danger of going to school because of the pandemic as the top reason for disagreeing with face-to-face classes.

Ninety percent of parents and guardians who disagree with the resumption of in-person learning said it is still dangerous to go to school because of the pandemic.

The non-availability of vaccines (57 percent) is another concern. However, only 14 percent think that modules given to students are good.

Nationwide, 44 percent of respondents agree that learners should be allowed to attend the coming school year physically, 33 percent are unsure, and 23 percent disagree. Agreement to have face-to-face classes, however, is higher among classes D (44 percent) and E (49 percent) compared to households in classes ABC (32 percent).

The demand for a return to in-person learning is also higher (62 percent) among respondents with children enrolled in public schools. When disaggregated by social classes, agreement to have face-to-face classes is again higher among classes D (63 percent) and E (60 percent) compared to classes ABC (53 percent).

While the government eyes the vaccination of minors by September or October, Gatchalian pressed the need to have a rollout plan in place, which should involve the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and local government units (LGUs).

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, also cited the need for a risk-based assessment in choosing pilot sites for limited in-person schooling, which is still subject to the President’s approval. The lawmaker also emphasized the need to prioritize areas without internet connection and where a significant number of learners belong to poor households.