AS the national government prepares for the conduct of pilot face-to-face classes in select low risk areas, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go called for proper and careful implementation, saying that students must not be put at risk especially since they are not yet vaccinated.
He also asked concerned authorities to ensure that proper health protocols are in place to protect the lives of students. While he understands the need to pursue education, protecting lives must remain the primordial concern of the country at this time.
“Importante po ang edukasyon dahil ito ang tanging puhunan natin sa mundong ito. Kaya hinihikayat ko ang mga bata na patuloy na mag-aral kahit na may krisis tayong hinaharap sa paraang ligtas at hindi mailalagay sa peligro ang buhay nila at ng mga pamilya nila,” Go said.
“Kahit na i-aprub ang planong pilot face-to-face classes sa mga piling paaralan, hinihimok ko pa rin ang gobyerno na gawing limitado muna ito at siguraduhin na ligtas ang implementasyon nito,” said Go.
Go cited that younger students have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 and this may put their health at risk.
“Sa mga bata, takot talaga ako. Unang-una hindi sila bakunado. Pangalawa, hindi natin kontrolado ‘yung galaw nila,” said Go.
“Pangatlo, back to zero na naman tayo (kung magkahawahan sa eskwela), tumataas ‘yung kaso, may Delta cases, mahirap po. So dapat po balansehin muna ang lahat, unahin natin ang buhay at kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.
A planned pilot test for in-person classes in 120 schools has been proposed by the Department of Education. The suggested limited face-to-face classes have been previously approved in principle by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease.
Under DepEd’s proposal, the pilot classes, which will last for two months, will have a blended learning approach, with a combination of face-to-face classes in school and distance learning modalities. Schools participating should also be located in minimal-risk areas based on the criteria set by the DOH.
Teachers and employees who are 65 years old and below and with no diagnosed comorbidities will be eligible to render services during the pilot.
Participation in the pilot is also voluntary, and learners who want to participate should have written consent from their parents or guardians. They also must live within the city or municipality where the school is located, and must not have existing co-morbidities.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education’s proposal is to implement limited face-to-face classes for other higher education programs which require laboratory activities for their completion. These programs include Engineering and Technology Programs; Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurant Management; Tourism and Travel Management; Marine Engineering; and Marine Transportation.
Duterte has previously approved the conduct of limited face-to-face classes only for medical and allied-health related programs of higher education institutions in Modified General Community Quarantine areas, and those of institutions in GCQ areas with hospitals that cater to COVID-19 patients.
CHED has cited the successful implementation of the said programs and notes that there is minimal percentage of students who were infected by COVID-19.
Currently, there are 118 HEIs and 247 programs that are issued authority to conduct limited face-to-face classes.
Despite his reservations, Go said that fully vaccinated students, on the other hand, may be permitted more movement as long as minimum health standards are upheld.
Go has previously voiced his support for providing incentives to fully vaccinated individuals in order to encourage more Filipinos, especially those who are still hesitant, to get their COVID-19 shots.
“Bigyan po natin ng insentibo ‘yung bakunado para ma-enganyo po ‘yung mga ibang kababayan natin na magpabakuna rin,” said Go.
“Puwedeng gawing konsiderasyon na kapag bakunado ka na puwede na sa face-to-face classes tulad ng mga college students dahil more or less protektado po sila… lalong-lalo na po ‘yung mga (magiging) professionals, mga doctor, ‘yung mga nurses para po makapag tapos at makapagserbisyo na… the more we need professional and medical workers right now,” he added.
Go also backed the mayors of the National Capital Region’s suggestion to loosen some of the restrictions for fully vaccinated people.
“Kung ma-relax natin konti ang mga restrictions at ibang protocols para sa bakunado na, inaasahan natin na mas maraming sektor ng ekonomiya ang mabubuksan. Mas maraming mga kababayan natin ang makakapaghanapbuhay muli at makakabalik sa kani-kanilang mga trabaho. Ibig sabihin, mas maraming pamilya ang makabangon mula sa hirap na dulot ng pandemya,” Go explained.
“Subalit dahan-dahan nating gawin ito. Huwag nating biglaing buksan lahat kaagad, baka naman tumaas ang bilang ng mga kaso at mahihirapan na naman ang ating healthcare system. Ayaw nating mag-back to zero na naman tayo. Kaya maingat lang dapat nating balansehin ang buhay at kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino,” Go cautioned.