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Physical classes to resume starting with pilot testing in low-risk areas—Sen. Gatchalian

By Melrose Juanites Calubag Published Sep 07, 2021 8:55 pm

Senate Committee on Basic Education chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said today, Sept. 7, that face-to-face classes will resume this year.

“Uumpisahan natin sa pilot testing sa mga lugar na zero COVID (cases) or low risk,” the senator said in an interview with PTV News. He added that the education sector will always get the highest budget allocation as stated in the Philippine Constitution.

On Sept. 6, Malacañang Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte expressed openness and “may allow” the said pilot implementation in areas with low COVID cases.

It will be participated by 120 public and private schools that will be proposed by the Department of Education (DepEd), and will have a maximum of 12 students for kindergarten, 16 for grade levels 1-3. Class hours will be limited to three hours.

There is still no exact date for when the pilot testing will start, but based on information given by the DepEd on Aug. 25, it will be conducted for a period of two months. Blended learning will continue when school year 2021-2022 starts on Sept. 13

According to Gatchalian, the 120 schools are a small percentage of the 50,000 schools nationwide. He added that from at least 1,400 LGUs, there are more than 200 LGUs that have zero COVID cases, and may start to have face-to-face classes.

“Doon sa mga urban centers, katulad dito sa Metro Manila tingin ko hindi pa pwede dahil tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pagdami ng virus. Pero doon sa mga lugar na wala namang COVID kahit isa, papasukin na nila ang mga bata dahil ang mga bata sa probinsya ay naglalaro na sa labas. Hindi naman sila nasa loob ng bahay nila. Hayaan na natin silang pumasok, at matuto sa kanilang mga teachers. “

He said that before the pandemic, experts pegged the learnings of students at Grade 12 as equivalent to Grade 7 only, and when the pandemic happened, it dropped to Grade 5 level.

“Kahit magtapos ka ng Grade 12, yung mga nalalaman mo ay hanggang Grade 5 lang. Ito yung tinatawag nilang ‘learning loss’ ” he added.

Banner: file photo from Philippine Star's Twitter account