The Senate basic education committee on Sunday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to shorten its period of pilot implementation and expand the number of schools conducting face-to-face classes from four months to 30 days.
“Senators recommended that DepEd expand the conduct of physical classes after at least a month. Because based on their schedule, DepEd is planning to have it in March,” the Senate panel said.
“So from March to November, that’s four months and it’s quite a long period given that we’ve been pushing for the reopening of schools as soon as possible,” it added.
The DepEd will begin the pilot implementation of limited physical classes in 59 public schools nationwide on 15 November — a drawback from its original proposition of opening 120 schools in low-risk areas.
It is also eyeing to end the pilot run on 31 January and expand its implementation on 7 March.
The panel however, insisted that the gap for the expansion is “too long” and said more schools should be covered by the limited face-to-face classes considering that the 59 schools included in the pilot run is less than one percent of the 60,000 schools in the country.
“We suggested 30 days because having 59 schools for the pilot run is not that much. The DepEd is aware and we saw that they have a list of things to check. They will check the practice of social distancing of students, the practice of health protocols and if their proposal to have alternate weeks with and without classes will be enough for the children to learn and absorb their lessons,” it said.
It added that the pilot test should cover “willing” private schools as they have more resources to safely resume physical classes than public schools.
It then appealed for the DepEd to “aggressively” pursue opening of classes in areas with zero coronavirus cases including far-flung areas in Cebu province and the Visayas areas.
Apart from the resumption of face-to-face classes, Gatchalian also pushed for the prioritization of teachers and education personnel in vaccination, saying that it will boost the confidence of parents into sending their children back to school.