Postponement of school opening pressed
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go has joined other senators calling on government to postpone the opening of the school year on Aug. 24 to October.

Go proposed to move the opening of classes to October 2020 to give students, teachers, learning institutions and education authorities more time to prepare, given the challenges the country is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our children’s safety and wellbeing are of utmost importance and it is our responsibility to ensure these,” Go said.

“I am appealing to the executive branch if they could postpone the opening of classes for a few months while waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine. Let us not risk the life and safety of our learners,” he said.

“If not yet ready, don’t insist. Our students, teachers and non-teaching staff will be in a pitiful situation. Filipinos are already in difficult situations, let us not add burden to students and their parents,” Go said.

The postponement of classes would also remove pressure and give the Department of Education (DepEd) and other agencies more time to prepare and iron out all concerns in conducting flexible and blended learning, he added.

“We need to ensure the safety and welfare of our students, teachers, non-teaching staff and parents in line with the President’s position of no vaccine, no face-to-face classes,” he added.

Go explained that given the adverse economic impact the pandemic has caused to various sectors, it would be beneficial to give Filipinos more time to adapt to the so-called new normal.

‘Pass resolution’

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) urged the Senate to pass a resolution that will formally ask President Duterte to postpone the school opening on Aug. 24.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones had earlier said they would take into consideration the recommendation, stressing that the decision would have to come from the executive as mandated by the recently enacted law on the scheduling of the school year.

ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said the presentation of DepEd during the Senate hearing on Wednesday showed the real situation on the status of school opening preparation.

“No less than the DepEd claimed that printed modular learning is the backbone of basic education learning continuity… hence its unavailability in most schools cannot be taken lightly,” he said.

At the Senate, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the DepEd failed to plan for the safety of teachers and non-teaching staff from possible COVID-19 infection with only two weeks to go before the opening of classes in the elementary, high school and senior high school levels.

Gatchalian directed the DepEd to link up with Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to ensure fast and immediate medical assistance in the event teachers would need it.

The chairman of the Senate committee on basic education said he was disappointed that DepEd failed to factor in the health requirements for teachers and non-teaching staff. – Janvic Mateo

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