Gatchalian, Binay welcome gov’t approval of dry runs for limited face-to-face classes

Two senators on Monday, Sept. 20 welcomed President Duterte’s directive to conduct limited face-to-face classes in areas with minimal risks for COVID-19 saying it is a significant step forward in the efforts to restore normalcy in the country’s education sector.

“We expect that that the Department of Education (DepEd) has already done mapping schools that are compliant and retrofitted based on new normal standards,” Senator Nancy Binay said in a statement.

“It’s very important to balance face-to-face learning and implementing health protocols in the classroom at school levels,” Binay said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture also hailed the move as this would finally address the impact of prolonged school closures, including learning and productivity losses.

“We have to keep in mind, however, that COVID-19 remains a nationwide threat. That is why we need to ramp up efforts to keep our schools safe for our learners, their parents, teachers, and personnel,” Gatchalian stressed.

“These include the strict enforcement of public health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of masks, and installing adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Local government units, on the other hand, should be equipped with strong surveillance and contact tracing systems,” he said.

The next step now, Gatchalian said, is to ensure that teachers, school personnel and minors are vaccinated against COVID-19.

“If we want to open more of our schools, then we have to assure parents that their children will be safe,” the lawmaker stressed.

“That is why aside from vaccinating our teachers, the crucial next step is opening our COVID-19 vaccination program to our minors aged 12-17,” Gatchalian emphasized.