WHILE Senator Win Gatchalian hailed the start of the pilot run for limited face-to-face classes in basic education, he emphasized the need to ensure that mitigation measures are strictly enforced to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools.
The lawmaker cited the importance of maintaining well-ventilated spaces and adequate facilities for water, sanitation, and hygiene. He also reiterated the need for local government units to have an active contact tracing and surveillance system. On top of these measures, Gatchalian pressed that all teachers and eligible learners should be inoculated against COVID-19 to boost the confidence of parents and communities on reopening schools.
“Matapos ang mahigit isang taon na walang face-to-face classes, sa wakas ay sinimulan na natin ang unti-unting pagbabalik ng mga mag-aaral sa kanilang mga paaralan. Kasabay nito, dapat prayoridad pa rin natin ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng ating mga mag-aaral at mga guro,” said Gatchalian.
The chairman of the Basic Education, Arts, and Culture in the Senate is visiting some participating schools today, the first day of the pilot run.
As the government eyes to expand the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes next year, Gatchalian is also raising the need for the 2022 Department of Education (DepEd) budget to prioritize the safe reopening of schools.
Gatchalian earlier flagged that under the P5.4 billion allotted by the National Expenditure Program (NEP) 2022 for Basic Education Facilities, only P358 million was allotted for Priority School Health Facilities which is meant for the construction, replacement, repair, and rehabilitation of water systems, handwashing facilities, toilet facilities, and other health and sanitation-related facilities. According to Gatchalian, this allocation might not be enough to cover 7,292 elementary schools, 2,082 junior high schools, and 2,085 senior high schools that still lack access to basic handwashing facilities.
Gatchalian has also proposed to use alert levels assigned to LGUs as a basis for allowing face-to-face classes.